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NCP-Cong rift: Pawar may skip PM's dinner

Sharad Pawar reportedly told Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma to stop attending office.

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Updated:July 23, 2012, 2:01 PM IST
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NCP-Cong rift: Pawar may skip PM's dinner
Sharad Pawar reportedly told Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma to stop attending office.
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New Delhi: There seems to be no end to the stand off between the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. The NCP leadership met in New Delhi on Monday and decided to skip the dinner being hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the honour of outgoing President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, sources told CNN-IBN. The dinner is at 8 PM at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar reportedly told Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma to stop attending office till further instructions. Agatha Sangma told Pawar she will do what the party wants her to do and was ready to quit.

Ahead of the NCP meeting, however, Pawar made a courtesy call to President-elect Pranab Mukherjee on Monday morning.

Pawar and NCP leader Praful Patel have also not been attending offices since last week. On Friday, the party had put the UPA on notice, with Pawar and his colleague Praful Patel issuing veiled threats of quitting the Cabinet.

Sources say the real trigger for the crisis may not be a fight for more influence at the Centre but the need for protection of NCP ministers in Maharashtra facing graft probes under Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Top NCP sources have confirmed that the NCP leadership wants Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to rein in Chavan.

Chavan met Congress ministers in Maharashtra after the NCP made allegations of lack of coordination between the NCP and the Congress in the state.

Sources say that Chavan has said he will wait and watch and wait for "orders from Delhi". He and other Congress MLAs have flayed NCP's moves as a pressure tactic.

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