NCP skips cabinet meeting over ‘problems’ (Lead)July 19th, 2012 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The NCP Thursday boycotted a cabinet meeting for the first time in eight years, amid speculation that Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was miffed over not being given the number two slot following the exit of Pranab Mukherjee.
Both Pawar and Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel chose to attend a meeting of their Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) when the cabinet was on, party leaders said.
In his usual style, Patel downplayed their absence, telling reporters that nothing should be read into their action.
But NCP spokesperson D.P. Tripathi was more frank, saying the NCP had “problems in how they (Pawar and Patel) were being treated” in the cabinet led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He underlined that it was the “first time in the last eight years” that the NCP had acted in this manner.
Asked if the party was upset that Pawar had not been made the number two in the government after Mukherjee quit the government for presidency, Tripathi said Pawar had never asked for any position.
The spokesman said the “problems were much higher” and would be discussed at a party meeting. He did not elaborate.
Mukherjee had always occupied the seat next to the prime minister at cabinet meetings.
After he quit, Pawar occupied the seat during a cabinet meeting. However, at the last meeting, Defence Minister A.K. Antony took the seat, indicating he had been made the de facto number two.
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Tags: agriculture minister, antony, cabinet meeting, cabinet meetings, defence minister, heavy industries, industries minister, manmohan, manmohan singh, nationalist congress party, New Delhi, party leaders, praful patel, pranab mukherjee, presidency, prime minister manmohan, prime minister manmohan singh, sharad pawar, spokesperson, tripathi