The NCP was unhappy with the way the government was run but there was no question of quitting the cabinet, Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said Friday, dismissing speculation that he and Agriculture Minister and party chief Sharad Pawar had quit.
"Till such time we have not formally resigned, there is no question (of resigning)… (The) issue is not about resignation at all," Patel said after a nearly two-hour meeting of Nationalist Congress Party leaders here.
He was speaking to reporters after NCP leaders, including Tariq Anwar and D.P. Tripathy, met following Pawar's 30 minute meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence.
It appears the Congress chief may have succeeded in mollifying the NCP as the rift with the Congress has implications for the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in which Pawar's party has nine Lok Sabha members.
The signs of trouble were apparent when Pawar and Patel boycotted the cabinet meeting Thursday evening chaired by the prime minister.
The two leaders were rumoured to have offered to resign from the cabinet apparently over the NCP chief not being given No.2 position in the government.
But Patel denied this. He said they had some issues with the way the government was functioning but the "NCP continues to be the part of the UPA".
"We are unhappy with some aspects on the functioning of the government which have been raised with Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi."
He didn't elaborate but said raising the issue of No.2 slot was "absurd".
This, Patel said, was being raised and "wrongly" fed to the media by "some sections of the Congress" in the name of "sources".
"These kinds of absolutely unreasonable and unnecessary comments are being made undesirably by some sections in the Congress," Patel said.
Patel said the NCP wanted the government to gear up for the next general election in 2014.
"The NCP has been one of the most responsible allies of the government for the last eight years and has been one of the pillars of strength. We feel the UPA is entering its last two years before the next general elections.
"The government must also be more decisive and more committed to the issues which are before the people."
He said Pawar had sent a letter to the prime minister raising issues related to the coalition. "Unfortunately there has been some speculation over the communication."
The NCP is meeting again Monday.