After putting the squeeze on the NCP for 21 months on various issues, Maharashtra chief minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday found himself the prime target of his alliance partner.
Within hours of NCP leader and deputy CM Ajit Pawar resigning, all 19 party ministers in the state government tendered their resignations to the state unit chief. What's more, the NCP legislators demanded the party pull out of the government and extend outside support to the Congress.
According to sources privy to the dynamics of the alliance government in the state, NCP chief Sharad Pawar is determined to force the Congress to remove Chavan ahead of the 2014 assembly elections.
Chavan, who was sent to Maharashtra as CM following the resignation of Ashok Chavan in connection with the Adarsh housing society controversy, has tried to corner the NCP with probing political moves time and again.
First, the CM challenged the NCP's dominance over the cooperative sector by dissolving the state's apex cooperative bank. Later, he repeatedly demanded a white paper (report that helps understand an issue) on the irrigation department that is with the NCP since 1999.
The CM was also seen to be siding with the opposition as well as anti-corruption outfits alleging large-scale corruption in irrigation projects.
The NCP also suspects the CM of engineering the media spotlight on corruption allegations against NCP ministers.
The CM's cautious style of functioning citing the need for transparency has irked the NCP. Significantly, some senior Congress ministers too are unhappy with Chavan's measured style.
Senior NCP leader Praful Patel told journalists in New Delhi, "There has been consistent effort to defame our party and ministers."
Sources close to the CM said he has decided to be even more cautious before forwarding Ajit Pawar's resignation to the governor. Apparently, the CM is under more pressure than his party colleagues.
He cancelled his scheduled tour to Pune in the evening and returned to his official Malabar Hill residence Varsha.