In a clear sign that it was ready to give the Congress more time to mend fences, the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) deferred its decision to pull out of the UPA government.
Sources said back-channel talks to pacify the Congress’s third-largest partner were on.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also pitched in to help, when she told NCP leader Praful Patel at a tea party in Parliament to “do something” for ending the stalemate. In yet another move to keep the ally onboard, PM Manmohan Singh named Pawar as the chairman of the coal-mining GoM despite the party’s boycott. He later spoke to the NCP chief.Meanwhile, the NCP’s Working Committee met at Pawar’s residence here to discuss its future strategy. However, Patel said the discussions would continue, and a final decision would be taken "no later than" Wednesday.
Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who has irked many in the NCP, may come to Delhi tomorrow and participate in the patch-up efforts.
Both Pawar and Patel attended the farewell function for President Pratibha Patil at Parliament. Pawar sat in the front row with defence minister AK Antony and spent considerable time chatting with him. The NCP leaders, however, skipped the PM’s dinner for the outgoing President.
Congress sources claimed that Pawar has reportedly conveyed his party’s reservations against the possible elevation of Sushil Kumar Shinde and P J Kurien to the post of Leader of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha deputy chairman respectively.
He has also opposed the food security bill and NREGA schemes, and sought a better portfolio for Patel — probably commerce or power.