Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s resignation took the Congress by surprise. But the party recovered from the shock and started planning its strategy to counter what it perceives is yet another pressure tactic from its ally.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who appeared to be Pawar’s prime target, held prolonged discussions with senior party colleagues, including the state party chief Manikrao Thakre, industry minister Narayan Rane and others.
Chavan is reported to have consulted the Congress high command and NCP boss Sharad Pawar on the issue. Chavan is expected to talk with Ajit Pawar, his uncle and senior Congress leaders again on Wednesday.
Thakre hoped the issue would be resolved soon. “I will talk to Ajit Pawar and find out the reasons behind his resignation. We are running the government together. In the past, we have resolved several difficult issues.”
Sources close to the CM said he has decided to be more cautious before forwarding Pawar’s resignation to the Governor. “The CM will have a tougher task to handle tomorrow if resignations of all NCP ministers are sent to him,” the leader added.
Chavan reportedly was under more pressure than his party colleagues. He cancelled his scheduled tour to Pune on Tuesday evening and returned to his official residence at Malabar Hill.
“It is anybody’s guess that the NCP is trying to bully us. We know that they will not quit the government… they can’t afford to do so in such a difficult phase,” said a Congress leader, who knows about the matter. “NCP leaders may stop the Congress from raking up more corruption cases, but it will have still have to face the courts, as many cases are now sub-judice.”
The aspirants for the CM’s post are likely to step up their campaign against Chavan as there are chances that NCP may seek Chavan’s ouster as part of a conciliatory bargain. A section of party MLAs have demanded that Chavan should be replaced as the party has not won any major elections under him.