As it happened: NCP protests Ajit's resignation, Pawar says he'll take final call

5:15 pm: Pawar says nothing wrong with nephew Ajit's resignation

The NCP chief has said his nephew Ajit has his complete backing and Pawar's resignation would not affect the realationship with the Congress in the state.

There were certain issues that were raised. The deputy  chief minister thought he should step down and let the white paper be published, Pawar told reporters today.

Ajit would go to the public at large after the white paper was published in order to prove his innocence, the minister said.

The NCP legislature committee has asked Ajit to consider taking back his resignation but has left the final call on the issue up to him, he said.

When asked if the resignation of 19 other ministers from the party were a sign of instability in the relationship with the Congress, Pawar said, "It is a reaction from the other leaders in the party. There is nothing wrong with that."

Pawar said he had not accepted the resignations of the 19 ministers and the support to the Congress in the state was "still intact".

5:00 pm: Congress rules out any leadership change in Maharashtra

If Prithviraj Chavan had any fears that he was in jeopardy of being evicted from the Chief Minister's post thanks to the resignation of Ajit Pawar, they have been laid to rest by Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.

"There is no question of leadership change in Maharashtra," Alvi was quoted as saying by PTI.

The BJP meanwhile has debunked the entire crisis in the state saying that the two parties have looted the state.

3.19 pm: NCP passes resolution asking Pawar to withdraw resignation?

CNN-IBN quoting sources said current Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is likely to be removed from his post within the next six months, adding that the party was clamouring for his resignation. However it has also quoted Congress sources as saying that there was no question of calling Chavan back.

Other flashes on the television channel indicated that from within the NCP meet, is reporting that the party leaders had passed a resolution asking Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation, but that senior leader Praful Patel had said that the resignation must be accepted.

Meanwhile Chavan is scheduled to meet Congress MLAs at 3pm tomorrow.

2:30 pm: NCP meeting ends, no discussion over Ajit Pawar's resignation

The NCP meeting in their office in the Maharashtra legislative assembly has come to an end.

While Ajit Pawar left without saying anything, other NCP leaders clarified that they had only discussed the death of senior state party leader Babasaheb Kupekar.

2:15 pm: NCP workers protest against Ajit Pawar's resignation outside party meet

NCP workers have turned up in large numbers outside the NCP party meet that is being held in Mumbai today.

Shouting slogans, beating their chests and demanding the withdrawl of the Ajit Pawar's resignation the NCP wokers seem to be a show of strength by Pawar.

Not surprisingly, Pawar himself has had little to say after announcing his resignation. He seems to be letting his political muscle do the talking.

Incidentally the meeting is unlikely to discuss Pawar's resignation and is likely to instead offer condolences over the death of veteran state NCP leader Babasaheb Kupekar. The party has said they will wait for party chief Sharad Pawar to take a final call.

Prithviraj Chavan, who's still holding on to the resignation letter of Pawar, might be watching the show of strength by his former deputy rather closely.

1:45 pm: Return of RR Patil to deputy CM post?

Nature might abhor a vaccum but will it be RR Patil, former deputy chief minister, that fills the post vacated by Ajit Pawar?

Patil has the experience (he had to vacate the post due to allegations of incompetence leading up to the November 2008 attacks) and has a relatively clean image. However, if it isn't Patil there are others like one time state Finance Minister Jayant Patil and Dilip Walse Patil who are also in the running, reports suggest.

But will Ajit Pawar allow anyone to supercede him within the party?

1:15 pm: Praful Patel says no deputy chief minister for now, Ajit to leade party

Minister of Heavy Industries and senior NCP leader Praful Patel today ruled out any other leader replacing Ajit Pawar as the deputy Chief Minister for the present and was equally firm in denying there would be any split in the party, or in the Congress-NCP alliance.

"There will be no deputy chief minister for the present. He will be the leader of the party in the legislature," Patel said in an interview to NDTV.

The minister denied reports that the resignation was a sign of rebellion within the party and signalled the possibility of a split in it.

"There is no question of division within the party. It is undisputed that Sharad Pawar leads the party," Patel said.

He also said the party's leadership had not been caught by surprise when Ajit announced his decision, and said he had consulted with Sharad Pawar before taking the decision.

Ajit spoke to Sharad Pawar twice yesterday, once to say what he felt about the reports against him and then to announce that he was planning to resign, Patel said.

Ajit was advised by Sharad Pawar that "if a canard is being spread then it is better to resign and clear the air", the minister said.

When asked about why the 19 ministers in the Maharashtra government had tendered their resignations, Patel said they had not known about Ajit's plan to resign and had resigned as a spontaneous gesture of solidarity.

"As a spontaneous response the ministers gave resignations to the party chief in the state thinking something was amiss," he said.

And it also doesn't mean that Ajit will in any way be playing a background role anytime soon.

"He will continue to lead the party in the assembly. We hope everything should be cleared in a few months time. Let the white paper be brought in public domain," Patel said.

He also denied that there was any possibility of the NCP breaking ranks with the Congress in Maharashta.

"I don't think anyone should doubt the committment of the NCP to the Congress in the Centre and in Maharashtra," the minister said.

12:45 pm: Praful Patel says no replacement for Ajit Pawar

Party leader DP Tripathi says that there is no question of the party splitting up with the Congress in Maharashtra over Ajit Pawar's resignation.

"We are a responsible political party….There are disagreements and that doesn’t mean condemnation. The NCP will fully support the government at the Centre and in Maharashtra," he told Times Now.

Senior NCP leader Praful Patel has offered a more unqiue solution to the problem and says that there won't be a deputy chief minister post in Maharashtra any more, ABP news has tweeted.

What does this mean? It means the Congress will be under pressure not to accept the senior NCP leader's resignation and also clearly indicates who's boss in the Maharashtra unit of the NCP. Will this placate Ajit Pawar or can he up the ante further?

12:15 pm: Meet to focus only on condolence of MLA

Times Now reports that the NCP party meet being held today will only focus on the death of senior leader Babasaheb Kupekar and offering condolences. There will be no mention or discussions regarding the political turmoil in the state.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Ambika Soni says in Delhi that the Congress is not worried about the alliance in Maharashtra since NCP party chief has said earlier that there is no risk to the alliance.

Now if only she could convince Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan. He's still to accept the resignation given by Pawar yesterday.

12:00 pm: Bhujbal says no decision until Pawar meets with NCP leaders

NCP senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal has said that party chief Sharad Pawar will decide the next course of action for the party in the state.

"Pawar saheb and our senior party leader Praful Patel have made it clear that we don't want to create a problem for the government," Bhujbal said.

"Day after tomorrow Pawar saheb is also coming and we will sit with him and decide our next step," he said.

Patel arrives in Mumbai later today and is likely to hold meetings with party leaders to decide the future course of action.

"The party's chief is Sharad Pawar and only he can decide what the next step should be," Bhujbal said.

The bigger question is will Ajit Pawar listen to what his uncle says or is this a sign of rebellion that won't be settled merely by an instruction?

11:30 am: NCP meet on Maharashtra may be delayed due to MLA's death

A decision by the NCP on its future course of action, following last night's crisis which saw all 19 NCP ministers follow the example of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and tender their resignations to the party’s state unit chief, could now be delayed due to the death of senior NCP MLA Babasaheb Kupekar in Mumbai this morning.

Will Pawar take the government down with him? PTI

Senior NCP leaders were due to meet at 2 pm today to decide on their next course of action, but now the meeting may not take place at all, with MLAs rushing to offer condolences on Kupekar's death. And even if it does take place, latest reports suggest that the matter of the resignations may not even be taken up for discussion.

CNN-IBN reported that the NCP was expected to pass a resolution authorising its chief Sharad Pawar to decide its future course of action. It was also largely expected that the Deputy Chief Minister would be persuaded to withdraw his resignation, which has incidentally not been accepted by Chavan as yet.

If Pawar's resignation is not accepted, the 19 NCP ministers may also take back their resignations.

Senior NCP leader Praful Patel was also scheduled to fly to Mumbai for the meet.

The party was thrown in to complete disarray last night, when reports emerged that all 19 Maharashtra ministers had submitted their resignations to the state unit chief. Party leader Sharad Pawar initially denied that any mass resignation had taken place but subsequently refused to make any comment on the matter.

Reports indicated that party legislators were demanding that the NCP pull out of the state government and only extend outside support, in what was largely seen as an attempt to oust incumbent Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Other theories however, hinge on the possibility of a power rift between Ajit Pawar and his uncle Sharad Pawar. Times Now said that the divide between the two Pawar's had come out in the open due to factionalism within the NCP with a section supporting Ajit Pawar, who wants the party to pull the plug in the Maharashtra government.

As of now, Sharad Pawar has denied any possibility of withdrawing support to the Congress government.

Updated Date: Sep 27, 2012 09:00 AM

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