Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday accepted Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar's resignation. He has also said that the post of Deputy Chief Minister will remain vacant for the time being. He also said that Ajit Pawar has assured him of full cooperation.
"In view of the fact that there will be no Deputy Chief Minister for the time being, we have worked out an alternate coordination mechanism. I'm sure that there will be full cooperation by NCP. Ajit has assured full support to the government and the NCP," Chavan said.
The resignation has also been accepted by Maharashtra Governor K Sankarnarayanan. "The Governor has accepted Ajit Pawar's resignation as recommended by the Chief Minister," a Raj Bhavan spokesperson told PTI. This comes a day after NCP chief Sharad Pawar accepted his nephew Ajit Pawar's resignation on Friday as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Sharad Pawar met Ajit Pawar, along with other senior NCP leaders in a bid to defuse the crisis. He later met the NCP legislators and announced that there was no rift withing the Pawar family. Addressing mediapersons after the meeting in Mumbai, the NCP chief said that the members of the party had given their suggestions on the issue in writing to him. He further reiterated the demand for the White Paper on the alleged irrigation scam in Maharashtra to be tabled at the earliest.
During the meeting, while the resignation of Ajit Pawar as the Deputy Chief Minister of the state was accepted, those of other party MLAs were rejected by the NCP leadership. Sharad Pawar, however, added that the members of the party wanted Ajit to reconsider his resignation. The NCP legislators had met on Wednesday and passed a resolution asking Ajit Pawar to take back his resignation. Ajit Pawar's supporters also shouted slogans outside the meeting venue.
In the past five days, Chavan met legislators and party leaders and was in touch with Sharad Pawar and the Congress leaders in Delhi. There were reports of NCP activists burning Chavan's effigies and taking out demonstrations in some parts of the state. Congress took strong objection to this, following which state unit president Madhukar Pichad issued a statement asking his party activists to stop the protests.
Ajit Pawar had resigned on Tuesday as the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra over allegations of irregularities in 32 irrigation projects. The NCP suspects that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was behind the "leak" of "damaging information" to the Opposition which found its way to the media and exposed the irrigation scam. "In the age of RTI Act, nothing can remain under wraps," Congress sources said.
(With additional information from PTI)