Congress, NCP stand-off ends with decision on better coordination (Roundup)

July 25th, 2012 - 11:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) The current stand-off between the Congress and the NCP ended Wednesday with an agreement to evolve a mechanism to ensure more consultation between the allies for “cohesive functioning”, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated that there was “give and take” in coalition politics.

A meeting between the alliance partners decided formation of a coordination committee at the centre and the revamp of the coordination mechanism between the two parties in Maharashtra.

The prime minister earlier in the day said that the government was ready to talk to its ally “on any issue” and there was “give and take” in coalition politics.

The decision for coordination mechanism was taken at a meeting in the evening attended by the prime minister, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel.

Patel, who is union heavy industries minister, announced the end of party’s stand-off with the Congress after the meeting at the prime minister’s residence and said the talks had put a “full stop” to all differences that emerged in the last few days.

“This puts a full stop to whatever happened in last few days,” he said.

As a result of the stand-off, Pawar, who is the union agriculture minister, and Patel were not attending office.

Patel said the two parties will work to further strengthen the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

“It was decided to set up an effective coordination mechanism very soon to ensure the cohesive functioning of the UPA,” Patel said.

He said the coordination panel will meet at least once a month and discuss policies and other issues.

Patel said the coordination committee will be headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The two parties also decided to activate the coordination mechanism in Maharashtra following complaints from the NCP that the coalition arrangement was not working properly in the state. The NCP and the Congress are partners in ruling coalition in Maharashtra.

The coordination panel for Maharashtra includes Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minsiter Ajit Pawar, Patel and a Congress leader whose name will be decided by the Congress.

He said the NCP never demanded the removal of Chavan as chief minister.

Patel also sought to downplay the NCP’s annoyance over Pawar being denied the de facto number two position in the cabinet after Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature for presidential poll.

He said that the reports about party wanting the number two slot for Pawar were “baseless”.

The differences between the two allies came out in the open after the presidential voting last week with Pawar sending a communication to the prime minister conveying his party’s unhappiness. The NCP threatened to pull out of government and provide it only outside support.

Pawar told the prime minister and Congress president, whom he met in quick succession Thursday night and Friday morning, that the NCP would like to keep out of the government and focus on its growth for the 2014 general elections.

The NCP ministers had conveyed their unhappiness with “some aspects of working” of the coalition government to the two top Congress leaders.

The NCP’s grouse was that it was “not consulted” on key policy decisions. Party sources said it was also keen on consultation on gubernatorial assignments and in its leader Tariq Anwar being given the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairman.

Sources said a section of the NCP was also keen to induct Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule as a minister in the next cabinet reshuffle.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told NDTV news channel here earlier in the day: “We are ready to speak to the NCP on any issue that concerns them…in coalition politics, there is give and take.”

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