"We are in UPA and will continue to be a part of it in the future as an ally. Central government gets our support every time and will continue to get it in future," senior NCP leader Praful Patel told reporters at the airport here after his arrival from Delhi with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
NCP, a stable ally of Congress for the last eight years, created a crisis of sorts for the government when Pawar, Minister for Agriculture, sent a communication to the Prime Minister expressing his decision to quit along with Patel, Minister for Heavy Industry.
Patel dismissed suggestions that the NCP was resorting to pressure tactics. "We have already spoken to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and no top leader of the Congress has said we are pressurising the UPA," he said. "If any leader in the Congress says this is pressure tactics, it's not right," he said. "We don't believe in any other speculation by Congress," he said.
Pawar, meanwhile, is closeted with his nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, State Unit President Madhukar Pichad, Home Minister RR Patil and PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal at his residence at Silver Oak estate to discuss the situation in the aftermath of his decision to pull out of the UPA government.
Party sources said Pawar apprised them of the developments in Delhi and also discussed the political situation in the state, where also NCP is not on the best of terms with Congress, its partner in the coalition government. Pawar had flagged the issue of lack of coordination and consultation by Congress with allies and some matters concerning governance in his talks with the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson.
During their discussions with Pawar, state NCP leaders would also take up the "issues" they have with Maharashtra Congress. "Decision-making is slow," Pichad had said yesterday. The oft-repeated criticism has been rejected by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who said he had taken substantiative policy decisions concerning welfare of the state rather than individual benefits.
One of the reasons for discord between the alliance partners in the state is Chavan's decision to take out a 'white paper' on irrigation projects. The irrigation department is headed by NCP's Sunil Tatkare. There have been allegations that the irrigated area has grown by a measly 0.1 per cent over a decade despite pumping in a whopping Rs 50,000 crore.
NCP's PWD minister Bhujbal is also facing allegations of corruption in construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.