The NCP chief and party minister Praful Patel are believed to have offered their resignations over the new pecking order.
New Delhi: An aggrieved Sharad Pawar met Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday, a day after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president and his lieutenant Praful Patel were believed to have offered to resign from the cabinet apparently over the No.2 position in the government.
Pawar drove down to Gandhi’s 10 Janpath residence to discuss “coalition issues”, NCP sources said. The meeting lasted for about half an hour following which senior party leaders met at Pawar’s residence.
Agriculture minister Pawar and heavy industries minister Patel are understood to have sent in their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late Thursday.
The prime minister has refused to accept the resignations, sources told IANS.
The Congress-NCP rift has implications for the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in which Pawar’s party has nine Lok Sabha members.
The sources said the two ministers will not be attending office from Friday, but the party will continue to be in the UPA.
Party spokesperson D.P. Tripathi said the NCP, with which the Congress shares government in Maharashtra also, is upset over the way the Congress has “denigrated and humiliated the coalition”.
The signs of trouble were apparent when Pawar and Patel boycotted the cabinet meeting Thursday evening chaired by the prime minister.
The unhappiness of the ally was rumoured to be over Pawar not being given the number two slot following the exit of Pranab Mukherjee, who resigned as finance minister to contest presidential election.
Mukherjee had occupied the seat next to the prime minister at cabinet meetings. In the meeting last week, the seat was taken by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, indicating that the senior Congress leader from Kerala was the No. 2 in the government.
Tripathi said the boycott of the cabinet meeting by the NCP was the first in eight years.