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Family feud hits NCP, Ajit Pawar quits govt

Power struggle within the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has plunged the Democratic Front government in Maharashtra into a crisis, with the deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar putting in his papers on Tuesday. The step follows charges in the media of Pawar being responsible for irrigation scam in the state when he was the water resources minister. According to a party spokesperson, the deputy chief minister put in his papers after holding a discussion with his uncle and NCP boss Sharad Pawar.

The younger Pawar's resignation was followed by all the NCP ministers sending their resignation letters to the state unit chief of the party Madhukar Pichad in Mumbai with a demand to withdraw from the alliance government led by the Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan.

Sharad Pawar, however, tried to play down the issue, claiming that there was no crisis in the government. He said in Kolkata that Ajit had consulted the NCP leadership on the issue and consent was given for his resignation. The senior Pawar ruled out the possibility of the NCP pulling out of the Maharashtra government.

As per sources there have been difference of opinions between the two Pawars after Ajit approached Sharad to discuss about an inquiry into the alleged irrigation scam. Commenting on the crisis Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, 'They are our allies. Even if there is a difference of opinion between us, we are confident that it will be resolved.'

Meanwhile the senior party leader and union minister Praful Patel claimed that the talk of differences between Ajit Pawar and his uncle were unfounded. Defending Ajit's decision to resign, Patel said, 'It was a good decision by Ajit Pawar to take this bold step. The truth about the allegations will come out in a white paper. The government in Maharashtra was stable and Ajit Pawar would continue to be the leader of the legislature party.'
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