Mumbai: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) appears to be in a flux ever since party strongman Ajit ‘dada’ Pawar announced his resignation as Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra over the alleged irrigation scam.
With all the 20 ministers and powerful Independents supporting Ajit Pawar, the fate of Prithviraj Chavan’s government appears uncertain despite Sharad Pawar himself having assured the Congress that the equation in Mumbai won’t be disturbed.
However, Ajit Pawar is keeping his cards close to his chest at the moment and has not given any indication of turning rebellious but if he were to stick to his decision of not being part of the government, it may not augur well for the Congress government and more importantly for Sharad Pawar.
As the entire episode is also being seen as a leadership tussle within the party and with Ajit, reportedly, keen on asserting his control over the state unit, the end result of the present crisis would hold far reaching consequences for the NCP as well as politics in Maharashtra.
In a statement that is symbolic of the tussle within the party, senior NCP leader and union minister Praful Patel has offered a unique solution that there won’t be a deputy chief minister post in Maharashtra any more
“There will be no Deputy Chief Minister for the present. He will be the leader of the party in the legislature,” Patel said in an interview to a news channel.
The minister denied reports that the resignation was a sign of rebellion within the party and signalled the possibility of a split in it.
“There is no question of division within the party. It is undisputed that Sharad Pawar leads the party,” Patel added.
Denying that the party’s leadership had been caught by surprise when Ajit announced his decision, Patel said that Ajit had consulted with Sharad Pawar before taking the decision.
Meanwhile, the legislators of the party are meeting today afternoon but may not take a decision on the way forward just yet.
The simmering tensions in the 13-year-old coalition came to the fore yesterday with the resignation of Ajit following reports of scam to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees in irrigation projects during his tenure as Water Resources minister between 1999 and 2009.