Cracks in the Maharashtra coalition widened on Wednesday, with the Nationalist Congress Party making a veiled accusation that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was not standing by Ajit Pawar, who quit as deputy chief minister on Tuesday.
"We feel that the entire government in Maharashtra should stand up in solidarity when it is under attack and when baseless allegations are made against any minister," NCP vice
president and Union minister Praful Patel told reporters.
He said this was especially so as the Congress chief minister is the leader of the legislature party of both the NCP and the Congress.
Declaring that the post of the deputy chief minister will be kept vacant till Ajit Pawar come back, Patel insisted that his resignation must be accepted now.
"Ajit Pawar will certainly make a comeback as allegations against him in due course will be found untrue," Patel said, but downplayed assertions by independent MLAs that their support to the government is linked with the continuance of Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister.
Patel said it showed how the MLAs are "emotionally attached" to the leadership of Ajit.
At the legislature party meeting in Mumbai, NCP leaders unanimously requested Ajit Pawar to withdraw his resignation as deputy chief minister.
The 13-year-old Congress-NCP coalition had plunged into a crisis on Tuesday following the surprise resignation of Pawar, nephew of party chief and Union minister Sharad Pawar, in the aftermath of media reports of his involvement in a scam when he headed the irrigation ministry between 1999 and 2009.
Shortly afterwards, all other 19 NCP members of the state council of ministers had submitted their resignation letters to Pichad.