Dams scandal: Ajit quits as Dy CM

FP

Maharashtra's Congress-NCP alliance government was jolted Tuesday as Deputy Chief Minister and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar resigned from the cabinet over allegations of irregularities in irrigation projects when he was minister for water resources and finance.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said he would decide on the resignation after talks with Congress and NCP leaders. But all the 19 other NCP ministers in the state followed up Pawar's sudden decision by offering their own resignations even as the party said there was no threat to the stability of the three-year-old government.

Announcing his decision to quit as finance, planning and power minister at a press conference, Pawar said he would not reconsider his move even if the allegations against him were proven wrong. Ajit, who is the nephew of NCP chief and union minister Sharad Pawar, however, kept the post of the leader of the party in the assembly.

"I have informed party chief Sharad Pawar before sending my resignation to the Chief Minister's Office. There is no truth in the allegations. I will go before the people of the state and let them decide what the truth is," he said.

The new standoff between the NCP and the Congress comes about two months after the NCP had threatened to pull out of the UPA saying coalition partners were being neglected by the Congress during decision-making. The NCP was also said to be miffed with Maharashtra's Congress leadership as it believed the Congress was trying to malign NCP ministers in the state.

The crisis was resolved after the Congress agreed to form a coordination committee at the Centre and revamp the coordination committee in the state. The NCP has 62 MLAs in the 288-member assembly while the Congress has 82. the Democratic Front alliance of the two parties has been in power in the state since 1999 although their relations have been mostly prickly.

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