New Delhi: A day after Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar expressed his displeasure and offered to resign for not being promoted to No 2 in the cabinet after Pranab Mukherjee’s resignation as the Finance Minister, the Congress has charted out a formula to appease Pawar. The UPA core committee is likely to huddle together later in the evening in order to assuage the NCP chief.  

READ MORE: Pawar, Patel offer to quit over pecking order

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If sources are to be believed, a three member committee comprising of AK Antony, Sharad Pawar and Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha will be formed to oversee the government’s functioning in the absence of the Prime Minister.

The inclusion of Pawar in this new committee is likely to pacify him that his seniority has not been compromised.

Reconciliation talks were held by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday morning, who invited Pawar to see her at her home. The Prime Minister is also likely to meet with the senior minister later on Friday.

According to political grapevine, the UPA is not sticking to coalition dharma, showing cold attitude towards smaller allies.

The UPA is likely to accommodate some demands of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, according to sources. Sharad Pawar, in his meeting with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Friday morning, conveyed his displeasure.

Pawar and NCP leader Praful Patel were on Thursday believed to have resigned from the Union Cabinet upset over a variety of issues including no 2 slot for Pawar.

Pawar, a former Chief Minister and one of the senior members of the Cabinet, is also believed to be hurt over the lack of consultations by Congress with allies, including NCP, and its reluctance to include the party in crucial Cabinet panels like Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) or even being considered for the post of the Leader of the House in Lok Sabha following the resignation of Pranab Mukherjee.

After presenting a picture of unity till the end of polling in Presidential election on Thursday, Pawar, Agriculture Minister and Patel, Heavy Industries Minister, had kept away from the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and instead met in the house of Pawar at the same time with some other party leaders.

The trigger for NCP's sulk appears to be denial of no 2 slot in the cabinet to Pawar which has apparently been given Defence Minister A K Antony.

Pawar, a senior leader, had been a Maharashtra Chief Minister thrice, was Defence Minister in the P V Narasimha Rao cabinet and was once even considered in the race for Prime Ministership.

NCP is also said to be miffed over Congress' attitude of not consulting them on issues in UPA. The party is also apparently unhappy that Pawar has not been made a member of the high-powered CCS which includes only Congress representatives and was worried that it may passed over on the choice of the Leader of the House that will arise when Lok Sabha meets for its monsoon session next month.

There was no confirmation from either the government or from NCP whether Pawar and Patel offered to resign or actually resigned.

There are reports that Pawar and Patel would not attend their offices on Friday in further pressure on Congress to take note of their concerns and to concede their demands.

Pawar had declined to comment on reports that he and Praful Patel had sent in their resignation to the Prime Minister to convey their unhappiness over the way the party was being treated by the Congress.

Asked about reports that the Prime Minister had called him in a bid to mollify him, Pawar said "no comments".

Similar was his response to questions on whether the two leaders had sent their resignation letters to the Prime Minister.

NCP spokesman D P Tripathi had strongly denied reports of resignation by Pawar and Patel.

The Agriculture Minister who sat in the No. 2 seat in the first Cabinet meeting after Mukherjee's resignation but in the next meeting the seat was taken by Defence Minister and senior Congress leader A K Antony.

This was interpreted as Congress' way of sending a message that Antony was the virtual No. 2 in the government.


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