NCP'S 'Pawar' play

While the political atmosphere in Delhi remained tense in the wake of NCP’s declaration of its disenchantment with the Congress party, there was an eerie calm at Vidhan Bhavan yesterday, where the monsoon session of the state legislature is in progress.

Most of the NCP affiliates in the ministerial seats stayed tightlipped about the future of the Democratic Government, while most of the senior leaders did not make an appearance.

What lies ahead: According to sources, Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel have sent in their resignation and even returned their official vehicles. file pic

But going by insider sources, this is the deceptive calm before the storm — a late-night meeting was convened by the party’s senior leaders yesterday to discuss whether the party wants to continue in its with the Congress.

According to inside sources, the party’s Delhi unit gave the state unit time till last night to decide whether it wanted to continue in alliance with the state’s Congress unit. This injunction reportedly came in the wake of the decision made by party chief Sharad Pawar and his colleague in the UPA cabinet Praful Patel to defect from the coalition and offer support to the Congress-led government ‘from outside’, said a senior party leader, requesting anonymity.

Both Pawar and Patel have reportedly sent their resignation and even returned their official vehicles, the leader claimed.

In this situation, the onus is on the state unit to quit the Prithviraj Chavan-led state cabinet in Maharashtra, he added.

Meanwhile, the Congress too is bracing itself. Chavan chaired a meeting with Congress ministers and senior party office bearers, where he asked his colleagues not to speak to the media before concrete decisions were made, and maintain a poker face until the NCP makes its stand clear, revealed the source. Chavan seems ready to face any eventuality, and kept himself busy with scheduled work related to the state assembly and the state council.

No surprise
Sources from the Congress revealed that the resentment from NCP quarters came as no surprise to them, as Congress has been making aggressive attempts to rein in the NCP, which had been strengthening itself as part of its plan to fight the next general elections on its own and form its own government. “The Pawar-led party wants to expand at the cost of the Congress, which our party will not allow,” the source said.

Chavan has been the first CM since 1999 to stand up to the NCP and take serious measures to control its alliance partner, another Congress minister said.

The NCP narrowly escaped major embarrassments at the Centre over some audit reports from the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) on departments held by NCP. At the state level too, the NCP is in the firing line for a number of irregularities noticed in portfolios such as PWD, Irrigation, Energy and Finance.

On the other hand, BJP and MNS leaders claimed they were yet to be approached by the NCP leadership to form the next government under Ajit Pawar.

At the Centre, NCP’s pressure tactics continue, with Praful Patel reiterating his party’s allegation that a section within the Congress is trying malign his party’s image, resulting in the standoff. 

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