Mumbai: A crucial meeting of NCP legislators called to discuss the situation in the aftermath of the resignation of Ajit Pawar as Deputy Chief Minister on Wednesday wound up within 20 minutes with a call to him to take back his papers.

The meeting, expected to be stormy due to the widening rift with 13-year-old ally Congress, ended rather tamely with the legislators unanimously adopting a resolution requesting Pawar to withdraw his resignation.

It was decided that state NCP president Madhukar Pichad would convey the sentiments of the legislators to party chief Sharad Pawar who would take a final call on the resignation by the Deputy Chief Minister.

Maharashtra Irrigation scam
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar resigned on Tuesday after allegations of his involvement in embezzlement of government’s fund meant for irrigation projects between 1999 and 2009 when he was state's water resource minister.

Opposition welcomed Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's resignation in the wake of corruption allegations in Maharashtra irrigation projects

NCP assures that Ajit Pawar’s resignation won’t threaten the stability of the Congress-NCP government Maharashtra

All NCP ministers tender resignation to state party chief Madhukar Pichad in the absence of Sharad Pawar

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray urged CM Chavan to accept Pawar’s resignation and not to bow before NCP’s pressure tactics

India Against Corruption had revealed in an earlier statement that this act is not just a Rs. 75000 crore scam but a "shameless rape" of the state's resources.

After Ajit’s resignation, NCP legislators came out in full support of embattled minister, who resigned as Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister following charges of his involvement in irrigation scam.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan met Congress Ministers and leaders to discuss the political situation arising after Ajit Pawar's resignation

Majority of NCP leaders want party to quit Maharashtra government while continuing outside support.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan it yet to accept the resignation of Pawar.

"A resolution was adopted requesting Pawar to take back his resignation," Pichad told reporters after the meeting at Vidhan Bhawan which was attended by all its 61 MLAs, nine independents supporting the party, besides half-a-dozen MLCs.

According to Pichad, only a resolution asking Pawar to withdraw the resignation was moved and adopted and there was no political discussion due to the passing away of veteran NCP leader and former state assembly speaker Babasaheb Kupekar.

"As all of us are saddened by the demise of Babaseb, it was decided that keeping in mind the solemnness of the occasion nothing political will be discussed," Pichad said and refused to take any questions.

He said he would seek an appointment with Sharad Pawar "in a day or two" and a "final" decision would be taken.

NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad, however, said Ajit Pawar did not "react" to the demand made by the legislators for taking back his resignation.

Pawar had resigned yesterday following media reports about his alleged involvement in irrigation scam during his decade-long stint as water resources minister between 1999 and 2009.

All other 19 NCP ministers in the Prithviraj Chavan government offered to quit and even submitted their resignations to Pichad, plunging the state's coalition government into a crisis.

The NCP leaders, including some ministers accused of financial irregularities, suspected a Congress hand behind media reports targeting them.

Sharad Pawar and his trusted lieutenant and Union Minister Praful Patel, however, hastened to dispel the impression of the Congress-NCP dispensation in the state having been caught in the throes of a crisis, saying the party would not pull out of the government.

Ajit Pawar avoided the media at today's NCP legislature party meeting.

Meanwhile, Prithviraj Chavan stayed put at 'Varsha', the Chief Minister's official residence, confabulating with senior party leaders and ministers.

He has called an "informal" meeting of Congress legislators on Thursday.

"This will not be a formal meeting but the Chief Minister would be meeting party legislators to mull over the present political situation," a state Congress functionary said.

Thursday's meeting, according to sources who did not want to be named, has been called to express solidarity with Chavan, whom those in the NCP see as somebody who leaked the information intended to damage Pawar's reputation to the Opposition.

At a time when RTI Act is in force, information is easily available, they said. On the issue of bringing a white paper on the status of irrigation projects, sources said it was the job of the concerned department and not the Chief Minister.

"The department can bring a cabinet note on the issue and put the information on the government's website," they said.

Chief Minister Chavan's announcement to bring a white paper on irrigation projects after state's economic survey revealed that only 0.1 percent additional area was brought under irrigation in a decade despite a whopping Rs 72,000 crore being spent during the period, had also reportedly riled the NCP.

Pawar had yesterday resented delay in bringing the white paper.

The irrigation portfolio has been with the NCP since the coalition came into existence in 1999.

Noting that Pawar's resignation and the situation created in its aftermath was an "internal matter of the NCP", sources said they were following a policy of "wait and watch".


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