Millennium Post

Pawar keeps all options open

Pawar keeps all options open
The Congress leadership is not going to have a peaceful weekend, as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has decided to postpone a final decision on his party's withdrawal from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government till Monday evening. Sources close to the NCP leadership say that a meeting has been called at Pawar's New Delhi residence on Monday at 3 pm.

The differences within the UPA escalated after Pawar, along with the heavy industries minister Praful Patel, submitted papers to quit from the cabinet. Thereafter, the Congress leadership reached out to him, with Pawar having meetings with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday. A compromise formula was also reported to have been offered to Pawar. 'It is true that the two have quit, but a final decision will be taken at party's Monday meeting where the offer from the Congress president and the prime minister will be discussed,' said the party spokesperson D P Tripathi.

Meanwhile, sources in the Congress insisted that the NCP-UPA crisis was heading towards an end. 'The solution may come from NCP's July 23 meeting,' said Congress sources, adding that the NCP was very anxious with reports of the cabinet reshuffle. It is also worried about the role the Samajwadi Party may play in the government in future.

The spat with the NCP was discussed in the Congress Core Group meeting too on Friday, where it was felt that the real problem was of a lack of coordination between the UPA allies and the NCP. Downplaying the crisis, the Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters, 'Sharad Pawar is a senior and respectable leader. He is looked upon with reverence in the UPA.'
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