Congress-NCP rift ends

NCP chief Sharad Pawar leaves after attending President Pranab Mukherjee's swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI  

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which had threatened to pull out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, buried the hatchet on Wednesday after the Congress accepted the idea of a coordination committee both at the Centre and in Maharashtra to ensure that its allies are consulted and involved in important decisions. While the one in Delhi will include all UPA allies, the one in Maharashtra will be a Congress-NCP panel.

The six-day-long rift ended after NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Later, Mr. Patel read out a joint statement: “After deliberations, it was decided to set up an effective coordination mechanism very soon to ensure that the cohesive functioning of the UPA... and to ensure the UPA allies meet once a month to discuss policy and other issues.” To a query, he said: “Sharad Pawar and I are fully active in government and will continue to do so.”

A similar coordination committee will be created shortly in Maharashtra, where both parties have been governing the State for 13 years. While the committee in Delhi will be headed by Ms. Gandhi, the members of the one in Maharashtra will include Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and representatives from the central leadership of the two parties.

Interestingly, the NCP, which adopted an aggressive posture on July 19, when it threw a bombshell shortly after voting for the presidential election ended, found it could not sustain its stand. On Wednesday morning, shortly after Mr. Patel stressed that his party did not issue an ultimatum to the Congress and that all issues could be resolved through dialogue, the Prime Minister told NDTV: “We are ready to speak to the NCP on any issue that concerns coalition politics, there is give and take.”

Through the last few days, the two NCP Ministers had skipped one Cabinet meeting and stopped attending office. Their complaint was that the NCP as well as other allies were not being included in the decision-making process, whether it related to policy issues, or appointment of governors.

The NCP may have pulled back from the brink on Wednesday, but its brief “revolt” has seen it become a rallying point for other UPA allies, including the DMK, the Trinamool Congress and the National Conference, with a fair amount of back and forth among these parties.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 8:20:37 PM |

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