New Delhi: The stand off between the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress is easing off with the Prime Minister's Office set to announce the setting up of a co-ordination committee, which has been a key demand of NCP chief and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi will meet Pawar on Wednesday evening.
While Congress President Sonia Gandhi declined to comment on the stand-off between two allies on Wednesday after the swearing-in ceremony of Pranab Mukherjee as the 13th President of India in Parliament. Meanwhile, NCP leader Praful Patel insisted that reports of his party's demands are wrong and that the NCP merely wants better co-ordination in Maharashtra and the Centre.
Sources say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will talk to Pawar to resolve the differences.
The NCP had on Tuesday said that it will take its final decision on its ties with the Congress by Thursday morning. "If we don't attend Cabinet meet on Thursday, then there is no turning back," said party sources.
However, the Cabinet meet has now been deferred. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether NCP will give a final word on Thursday.
The Maharashtra unit of the NCP had conveyed to its central leadership that if the Centre walks out, the state coalition would be put in jeopardy.
The NCP-Congress stand-off has Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan at its centre. Chavan has reportedly initiated probe into scams allegedly involving certain NCP leaders including NCP chief Sharad Pawar's nephew, Ajit Pawar.
Chavan has refused to back down and the Congress too has refused to give in to Pawar's demands of reining in the CM.
Chavan faces more trouble
Forty-three Congress MLAs in Maharashtra on Tuesday wrote to state party chief Manickrao Thakre criticising Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's style of functioning and urging him to ask the leader to change it.
CNN-IBN accessed the letter which was signed by MLAs mostly close to Ashok Chavan and Vilasrao Deshmukh.
The letter stated, "There is anger among our constituents over the lack of progress on several projects."
It further rued the lack of progress on 14 projects/policy initiatives including irrigation, health and education.
The MLAs are also believed to have warned that if the situation continued, the Congress-NCP coalition would fare badly in the next elections.
When asked, Thakre said he did not receive any "complaint letter" from the MLAs, and that the MLAs stood united behind Chavan. He, however, said that he received a letter from the MLAs who wanted Chavan to pay attention to some projects.
The Maharashtra CM is already facing ally trouble with the NCP lashing out at him for not backing up its ministers who are accused in scams.
Chavan had promised a White Paper on scams in irrigation projects in the state. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also Sharad Pawar's nephew, is embroiled in it as he was the irrigation minister for many years.
Sunil Tatkare, the present irrigation minister from the NCP, is under the scanner as well.
(With additional information from PTI)