NCP leaves resignation issue to Sharad Pawar

Mumbai, Sep 26 (IANS) A meeting of the NCP ended here Wednesday after resolving that party chief Sharad Pawar will decide on Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other ministers' resignations Tuesday.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar, uncle of Ajit Pawar, will visit Mumbai Friday to hammer out a solution to the crisis that has gripped the Maharashtra government.

Besides taking a final call on Ajit Pawar's resignation, senior Pawar will consider the issue of the resignation letters 19 other NCP ministers have tendered to state NCP chief Madhukar Pichad.

Held amid a show of strength by Ajit Pawar supporters, the party also condoled the death of its senior leader and former speaker of Maharashtra assembly Babasaheb Kupekar.

Later, the legislators unanimously demanded that Ajit Pawar should continueas deputy chief minister, NCP leader Jitender Awhad told the media.

Pichhad moved a resolution asking Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation. The demand was accepted by the legislators.

"However, a final decision would be taken by Sharad Pawar in consultation with party leaders and legislators," Awhad added.

Ajit Pawar, who attended the meeting, kept mum over the developments.

The mood in Mumbai was in stark contrast to the view of the NCP leadership in New Delhi which has been insisted that Ajit Pawar's resignation should be accepted by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

"After the resignation, there will no longer be a deputy chief minister in Maharashtra. A final decision will be taken by Sharad Pawar," Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said in New Delhi.

A bewildered Maharashtra Congress, caught off-guard by the developments Tuesday, has convened a meeting of its legislators.

Earlier, the Pawar stronghold of Baramati, some 250 km from Mumbai, observed a shutdown in support of Ajit Pawar.

There were angry protests in several towns like Yavatmal, Aurangabad, Pune and Baramati by his supporters demanding that his resignation should be rejected.