A crucial meeting of the NCP is being held this afternoon in the wake of the stand-off with the Congress that has seen the UPA constituent deciding to pull out of the government.
Party chief Sharad Pawar will hold consultations with senior party colleagues to decide the future course of action.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had sought to persuade Pawar not to press further for the resignation and held his party as a "valued" ally.
AICC has also expressed confidence that the issues would be resolved.
Even as the NCP gets into a huddle today before finalising its stance on continuing or staying away from the Union government, it seems certain that no compromise is on the cards with regard to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
On day two of the ongoing fracas in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the NCP played hard ball, signalling that Chavan would have to be replaced.
Sources in the NCP told HT that Ajit Pawar, the deputy chief minister and Sharad Pawar’s nephew, is in no mood to dilute this stance. He told his uncle in the consultation held on Saturday that running a coalition with Chavan at its helm until the 2014 polls was ‘impossible’, it is learnt.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar returned to Delhi on Sunday afternoon. The state Congress party leadership did not try to initiate a dialogue with him or the NCP’s state leadership, giving an indication that the final solution would be thrashed out in Delhi. Chavan, meanwhile, made a peace offering on Sunday, when he thanked the NCP for its help in the Presidential election.
The NCP’s senior leaders, including those like Chhagan Bhujbal who are not completely in sync with Ajit Pawar’s leadership, have rallied on this issue, with Chavan being seen as too much of a nuisance.
“There is only so much nonsense we can take. The ball is in the Congress’ court now but if they don’t agree then all this will have to end soon,” said a senior NCP leader, who was present at the party’s consultation with Sharad Pawar on Saturday.
HT had reported on Sunday that the NCP had trained its guns on Chavan and wanted him reined in or replaced.
Pulling out of the coalition in the state at this stage will harm both the ruling allies, but the NCP is sticking its neck out knowing well that the Congress cannot afford to lose out Maharashtra at this stage.
It remains to be seen whether the Congress will give in to the NCP’s pressure tactics.
The NCP’s dislike for Chavan stems from several of his actions which have been viewed as a direct challenge to its strongholds.
Chavan dissolved the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, the apex cooperative bank controlled by the NCP, and recently announced that a white paper on irrigation would be published to let people know what happened to the hundreds of crores of rupees spent on the projects.
The party also feels Chavan has fed ‘ammunition’ to the Opposition concerning graft complaints against NCP senior leaders like Bhujbal and Tatkare.
Last week, NCP decided to pull out of the UPA government and support it from outside in protest against the way the party was treated by Congress.
Pawar and the only other representative in the Union Cabinet Praful Patel have informed the Prime Minister that they are tendering their resignation.
In a separate communication to Gandhi, Pawar has said NCP, which has nine members in the Lok Sabha and seven in the Rajya Sabha, will stay part of the UPA.
(With inputs from HT, PTI)