There’s trouble in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) with one of its key allies the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) threatening to quit the government on Thursday. The point of contention was denial of the number two slot in the Union cabinet to NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who is also the Union agriculture minister.
The problems between the Congress and the NCP at the Centre have trickled down to even the state-level with three different instances on Thursday indicating that the situation was heading from bad to worse.
While in Delhi, Pawar and his party colleague, heavy industries minister Praful Patel, boycotted the Union cabinet meeting, the NCP chief’s nephew and Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar angrily walked out of a meeting of the state legislature’s business advisory committee in Mumbai.
Ajit Pawar was irked after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, a Congressman, ignored his views and accepted the Oppositions’ demand of extending the ongoing monsoon session of the legislature by a few more days. The monsoon session usually lasts two weeks and the NCP was not keen to extend it beyond July 20 since three of its ministers are facing various allegations. Chavan decided to extend it to July 25.
The chief minister also postponed the inauguration of the state government’s newly built office-cum-accommodation complex in Delhi, Maharashtra Sadan. The public works department headed by NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal had invited President Pratibha Patil to inaugurate the building, but she chose not to following allegations by BJP about irregularities in the construction contract.
“Instead of the Shiv Sena-BJP, the Congress has been treating NCP as its enemy. We are increasingly finding it difficult to run the government. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has been pushing us into a corner and there could be some repercussions in the coming days,” said a senior NCP minister.
According to party sources, the NCP chief is also irked that the Congress leadership has not responded to his demand that Chavan should be replaced as chief minister.