NCP chief Sharad Pawar accepts Ajit Pawar's resignation
Mumbai: The stalemate over Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's resignation ended on Friday with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar deciding to ask Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to accept it.
"I will ask Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to accept Ajit Pawar's resignation as Deputy Chief Minister," Sharad Pawar told reporters after a meeting of the NCP legislature party here.
The decision was taken after Sharad Pawar met Ajit Pawar at the residence of Union Heavy Industries Minister and senior NCP leader Praful Patel.
Ajit Pawar had sent his resignation on Tuesday to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who is now expected to forward it to the state Governor.
Ajit Pawar had resigned following media reports about his alleged involvement in a Rs 20,000 crore scam when he held the irrigation portfolio between 1999 and 2009, plunging the 13-year-old Congress-NCP coalition in the state into a crisis.
The Union Agriculture Minister, however, turned down the resignations tendered by 19 other Nationalist Congress Party ministers. They will resume their duties as usual from Sturday, he added.
The resignation of MLAs was being seen as a show of strength by Ajit that he had the backing of the entire legislature party.
Earlier, the NCP legislature party had appealed to Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation, sent to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday, after an expose in a section of the media on alleged irregularities in the irrigation department during his tenure as minister.
The party had later authorised Pawar to take a final call on the matter.
Sharad Pawar said the state government should bring at the earliest a white paper on the money spent on irrigation in the state.
He said although the party's rank and file wanted Ajit Pawar to reconsider his resignation, "he (Ajit Pawar) stuck to his stance that he would not be part of the government till the white paper was released".
"Ajit Pawar made it clear that till the time the white paper comes, he will not be part of the government. Other ministers will be back to their work," Sharad Pawar said.
The NCP chief, uncle of Ajit Pawar, denied any rift within the family.
NCP suspected Chief Minister Chavan had leaked "damaging information" to the media though Congress rubbished the charge, saying in the age of RTI, all information can be easily obtained.
Pawar senior said the NCP legislators had demanded in the meeting that a white paper on the status of irrigation projects in the state be brought out at the earliest.
The Chief Minister's announcement to publish a white paper on the irrigation projects had angered NCP whose ministers have been holding the irrigation portfolio ever since the coalition came into existence.
Chavan's announcement had followed tabling of the state's Economic Survey in the Legislative Assembly which said only 0.1 percent of additional land had been brought under irrigation during a decade despite Rs 72,000 crore having been spent.
Ajit Pawar was, however, not present when the NCP boss was speaking to the media.