NCP decides not to walk out of UPA

NCP decides not to walk out of UPA

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said in Mumbai on Saturday that it would continue to remain in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but expressed displeasure over the “lack of coordination” with the Congress at the Centre and in Maharashtra, where they share power.

The party led by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had decided to pull out of the UPA to protest against the way it was being treated by the Congress. The NCP said the government did not function according to their expectations.

Meanwhile, the UPA faced a fresh crisis when Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata hinted at quitting the alliance if proper respect “is not shown” to her party.

She said the Trinamool Congress would contest the panchayat election in the state alone.  Threatening the Centre with dire consequences, Banerjee said on Saturday: “We are with the UPA government and will be with them only if we are treated with respect and dignity.”

In Mumbai, senior NCP leader and Minister for Heavy Industry Praful Patel told reporters: “We are in the UPA and will continue to be a part of it in the future as an ally. The Centre gets our support every time and will continue to get it in future.”

Patel said the NCP was of the view that a progressive and secular government should stay but regretted that his party’s views were “not considered.”

“The functioning of the government has not been according to our expectation. Our views are not considered,” he said after Pawar’s meeting with top party leaders in Maharashtra, including his nephew and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, state NCP chief Madhukar Pichad and Home Minister R R Patil.

The NCP, a stable ally of the Congress for the last eight years, created a crisis of sorts for the government when Pawar sent a communication to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing his decision to quit the ministry along with Patel.

Patel said the situation in Maharashtra was no different.  “We want the mechanism of coordination to be put back in place so that important issues are discussed and decisions taken. With this we can provide a good government. Our leaders here say that due to the lack of coordination decision making has been affected,” he said. “in Maharashtra, the NCP is an equal partner in government and coordination needed to be strengthened to improve governance.” 

When asked to comment on Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s statement on Friday that his equation with state NCP leaders was excellent, Patel said: “Individuals were not discussed. We want effective coordination.” The NCP in Maharashtra is said to be irked by Chavan’s decision to bring 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.

Maharashtra PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal of the NCP is also facing allegations of corruption in construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.
A NCP meet will be held in Delhi on Monday where the party’s future course of action will be decided and communicated to the Congress, Patel said.

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