After a week-long tug of war, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party agreed on a “give and take” formula on Wednesday and decided to set up central and state-level coordination committees at the earliest.
It is understood that NCP heavyweight Sharad Pawar and his deputy Praful Patel agreed to remain in their ministerial roles in the union ministries of agriculture and heavy industries respectively, after the formula was worked out.
The state-level coordination mechanism would be activated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, whose style of functioning was the bone of contention. However, chances are that this might not be the “only” deal struck between the two warring allies.
Sources indicated that the actual understanding might result in a change of guard in Maharashtra in September, once the Monsoon session of Parliament was over.
The first sign of a thaw in the standoff could be discerned when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remarked earlier in the day that “coalitions are run by give and take strategy”.
Pawar was later seen seated along with his Cabinet colleagues in the pecking order, during the swearing-in ceremony.
Later, Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi met Pawar to formalise the understanding. The NCP leader was accompanied by Praful Patel, who according to Congress sources, was “instrumental in working out the formula and convincing the NCP leaders to climb down from a hard position”.
Following the hour-long meeting, Patel said: “It was decided that an effective coordination mechanism will be set up very soon to ensure cohesive functioning of the UPA. This mechanism will ensure that the UPA allies meet at least once in a month to discuss policy and other issues.” “It was decided to activate the coordination machinery very soon to ensure the smooth functioning of the Congress-NCP coalition government in Maharashtra,” he said.
The drought situation in the country also came up for discussion. The PM reiterated that Pawar’s expertise was needed in handling the drought situation.