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NCP-Cong rift a threat to Maharashtra government

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's refusal to back NCP leaders facing allegations of corruption has annoyed the party.

News18test sharma |

Updated:July 23, 2012, 3:55 PM IST
NCP-Cong rift a threat to Maharashtra government
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's refusal to back NCP leaders facing allegations of corruption has annoyed the party.

New Delhi: The stand-off between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress took a turn for the worse with party chief Sharad Pawar now asking Minister for State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma to stop attending office. Whether the party should pull out from the UPA or not, will be decided by the party leadership soon.

Sources say that the root of the problem lies in Maharashtra where ties between the two parties deteriorated after Prithviraj Chavan became the Chief Minister.

The NCP raised the pressure on the Congress last week with Sharad Pawar and party leader Praful Patel deciding not to attend offices. The NCP is also holding a meeting to decide whether or not it wants to continue its alliance with the Congress.

The Prime Minister is making all efforts to placate Pawar. He called up Sharad Pawar and asked him to not resign as this was not the right time.

The Congress has faced a similar situation before with the Trinamool Congress threatening to pull out. However, the NCP quitting the UPA is not a big worry for the UPA as the party has only nine MPs in the Lok Sabha.

But the big problem is in Maharashtra where the NCP has 62 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly and the Congress with its 82 MLAs needs its support for the government to survive. The Maharashtra government will fall if the NCP decides to quit.

Tension escalated after Chavan promised a white paper on scams in irrigation projects in the state. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also Sharad Pawar's nephew, was the agriculture minister for 10 years.

Sources say the NCP holds the Congress responsible for the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) dissolving the board of Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank where many NCP members were on board.

NCP leader Praful Patel indicated that the germ of the current political crisis lies in Mumbai and not Delhi. CNN-IBN has learnt that the NCP leadership wants the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi to rein in Prithviraj Chavan.

Among the NCP senior ministers under scrutiny are:

Chhagan Bhujbal, PWD Minister:

Bhujbal's relatives received sub contracts for building the new Maharshtra Sadan worth crores.

Bhujbal's trust received Rs 5 crore from India Bulls for giving a 4 acre of prime land in Mumbai.

Sunil Tatkare, Irrigation Minister:

Under fire in the alleged Rs 1000 crore irrigation scam.

Faces allegations of land grab and disproportionate assets.

Ajit Pawar, Deputy CM:

Opposition demanded that Ajit Pawar's tenure as irrigation minister between 1999 and 2009 also be probed as part of the alleged Rs 1000 crore irrigation scam.

Pawar controlled Sangli District Central Cooperative Bank was dissolved for rampant irregularities and blatant violation of the Banking Regulation Act

Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank controlled by Ajit Pawar too was dissolved

The Chief Minister said it was a mistake to have given the NCP the home.

However, the Congress would continue to make efforts to keep the alliance with the NCP as the party has been one of its most reliable allies. NCP was among the first parties to have supported UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee who is now the President elect. Therefore, it seems that the Congress will have to shift focus to Maharashtra from Delhi.

Maharashtra Assembly total strength: 288

NCP - 62

Congress - 82

Shiv Sena - 45

BJP - 46

MNS - 13

PWP - 4

Others - 36

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