New Delhi: With the NCP blowing hot over the alleged humiliation meted out to party chief Sharad Pawar , the Congress, which can’t afford a fresh rebellion in UPA at this juncture, has proposed a compromise formula to resolve the ‘No. 2 in Cabinet’ issue.
Sources told Zee News, Friday, the formula was put forth by the Congress high command when Sharad Pawar met Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence.
As per the proposal, in absence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a three-member committee comprising AK Antony, Sharad Pawar and Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha will oversee the government’s functioning.
Clearly, the Congress appears in no mood to hand over the number 2 slot in the Cabinet to Pawar – an alliance partner – despite the Maratha leader and his lieutenant Praful Patel handing over their resignations from the government over the way the Congress has "denigrated and humiliated the coalition".
Trouble started following the exit of Pranab Mukherjee, who always occupied the seat next to the Prime Minister at cabinet meetings.
After he quit, Pawar occupied the seat during a cabinet meeting. However, at the last meeting, Defence Minister AK Antony took the seat, indicating he had been made the de facto number two.
NCP to decide on Congress formula
Following Pawar’s meeting with Sonia, the NCP top brass met at his residence to discuss the proposal.
Known as someone who does not take to slighting lightly, the veteran leader is expected to derive his pound of flesh if he agrees to go by the Congress’s formula, for now.
As per reports, Pawar is hugely upset over the possible elevation of fellow Marathi Sushil Kumar Shinde as the Leader of the House in place of Pranab Mukherjee.
Shinde is junior to Pawar in Maharashtra politics; hence it would be difficult for him to play second fiddle to Shinde in the Lok Sabha.
Also, reports said that Pawar may ask for the Defence portfolio for agreeing to the formula where he and AK Antony would be joint Number 2s in the Cabinet.
First Published: Friday, July 20, 2012, 10:37