Upping the ante, the NCP on Tuesday warned the Congress that if its demands like a coordination committee for the UPA coalition and better treatment of allies were not resolved by Wednesday it would pull out from the government.
The party led by Sharad Pawar has also indicated that any pull out in Delhi could have a cascading effect on the coalition in Maharashtra as the state leaders favour exiting the Congress-led ministry. The NCP has been in coalition with the Congress in Maharashtra government for the last 13 years.
An NCP leader, who declined to be identified, said that non-Congress constituents in the UPA have been sympathetic to the demands raised by it and the party was also in touch with the supporting parties of the UPA coalition.
He also said that Congress has held no backchannel talks so far with it on the issues raised by Mr. Pawar in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
“We are a responsible party and it would not behove the stature of a leader like Pawar to be absent at two successive Cabinet meetings,” he said, suggesting that Mr. Pawar would rather like to end the suspense on his resignation.
“Therefore our deadline ends tomorrow”, he said.
Mr. Pawar and his party colleague Praful Patel had kept away from the Cabinet meeting last week expressing their desire to quit for building their party.
“The issues raised by the NCP were for better coordination and all the other UPA constituents were ‘sympathetic’,” the leader claimed.
Dismissing speculation that the standoff has been created for the inclusion of Supriya Sule in the Union Cabinet, the leader claimed that the NCP has no wish list and is not seeking more ministries or departments. Ms. Sule is Pawar’s daughter and an MP from Baramati.
The NCP leader said that the allies have no say in the functioning of the government and their role was limited to four walls of their ministries.
The allies are not being given a fair share in power and not even consulted on appointments of Governor. The NCP came to know about the appointment of the governor of Maharahstra through the media, he alleged.
In Maharashtra, there has not been a single meeting of the Congress-NCP coordination committee since Prithviraj Chavan became Chief Minister. He said that the AICC in-charge of Maharashtra was also not in touch with the NCP.
Unlike at the Centre, the NCP ministers in the state are not being consulted by the Chief Minister on the appointment of secretaries of their departments.
He alleged that a smear campaign against NCP ministers was being carried out by supporters of the Chief Minister. He said that the Chief Minister should bring out a white paper on the irrigation sector in the state.