Calling itself responsible, NCP stalls for time

After keeping the UPA on tenterhooks over the weekend, the Nationalist Congress Party let them simmer for one more day and said that they would take a decision on their future course of action after meeting with party legislators from Maharashtra either tomorrow or day after.

"Before any final decision we should speak with our Maharashtra colleagues yet again. We will meet again tomorrow to take a decision on this matter," Praful Patel, Union Minister for Heavy Industries, said.

The minister said they would take a decision after meeting. Reuters

"But I would like to say, as many comments are being made, that as far as the UPA goes that we are a member of the alliance and will remain in it as a responsible ally. In Maharashtra also the Congress and NCP alliance will remain and we will ensure it functions properly," he said.

Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma, who was reported to have resigned from her post today after her father PA Sangma lost the presidential poll, met with party chief Sharad Pawar today, Patel said.

However, he said that the minister had only said that she would follow whatever decision the party took and had not resigned from the post.

Sangma, who had initially joined her father's campaign for the presidential post, had faced opposition from within the NCP after her father left the party.

Patel, who holds charge of the Heavy Industries ministry, said that none of the NCP ministers holding ministerial posts in the UPA government had resigned from their posts.

"We are supporting the UPA as a core constituent. We are not a supporting party post-election," he said, adding that the party would support the alliance till the very end.

The minister blamed a section of the Congress party for spreading rumours that Pawar was seeking additional ministerial berths to ensure his support to the alliance.

"There is a section of the Congress party which has been spreading these canards to malign the NCP and some maybe have the sadistic pleasure of wanting to see the alliance being broken," Patel said.

The minister said that the Prime Minister and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had been very gracious in their dealings with Pawar but says there are some mischievous elements in the Congress party that need to be dealt with.

He also denied the current crisis between the alliance partners was due to Pawar wanting a more important role in the UPA or a No 2 position within the cabinet.

"Mr Pawar does not want the chair next to the Prime Minister," Patel said, adding the NCP chief was not seeking anything for himself.