Pawar to decide on Ajit, MLAs ask him to stay
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Maharashtra's NCP MLAs Wednesday unanimously urged Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation even as party chief and union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said he would take the final call on the crisis triggered by Ajit's sudden decision to put in his papers.
Pawar's nephew Ajit resigned Tuesday over allegations of large-scale corruption in irrigation projects when he was minister for water resources and finance. But Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is yet to accept it. The NCP's 19 other ministers have also offered to quit in solidarity, pushing the party's alliance government with the Congress into a crisis.
"The legislative party of NCP has unanimously decided to request Maharashtra deputy chief minister to reconsider his decision. The final decision will be taken by the party's national president," Sharad Pawar told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of state agriculture ministers in Kolkata.
Political observers say the events are an indication of the power tussle within the NCP with Ajit seeking to strengthen his hold, as well as an escalation in the friction with the state Congress leadership of Chavan. Comments by another senior NCP leader and union minister, Praful Patel, seemed to support this assessment.
"There is no question of any division in NCP. Mr Sharad Pawar is totally in control and he gave the go ahead to Ajit Pawar to resign," Patel told reporters in Delhi, adding that Chavan should not delay accepting the resignation. He said Ajit would bounce back as the allegations against him would be proven false.
Ajit too sought to present a picture of unity and rubbished reports that there was a rift between him and his uncle. "This is a creation of media. He is the supreme leader of the party, and his decision will be final," Ajit was quoted as saying by PTI. But he did not respond when asked if he would withdraw his resignation if his uncle asked him to do so, PTI said.
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