NCP to continue support Congress says Sharad Pawar

Following the so-called political crisis in Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar made it clear that his party would remain partner with Congress, even as party MLAs unanimously passed a resolution asking Ajit Pawar to call back his resignation as deputy chief minister


Kolkata/Mumbai: Sharad Pawar, chief of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Wednesday reaffirmed his party's support to Congress at the Centre and at Maharashtra, where a crisis has erupted in the wake of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's resignation, reports PTI.

"We continue to support the government in Maharashtra and Delhi, we do not want de-stability," Pawar told reporters in Kolkata.

Asked whether Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan should go back to Delhi, where he was earlier a powerful minister in the PMO, Pawar said, "Whether Chavan should be there (as chief minister of Maharashtra) in Mumbai or Delhi is the internal issue of Congress, it is a prerogative of Congress and we have no view."

Asked whether the resignation of Ajit Pawar, a senior NCP leader, was to create pressure on Congress, he said, "(There is) no question of pressure creating."

Earlier in Mumbai, a crucial meeting of NCP legislators called to discuss the situation in the aftermath of the resignation of Ajit Pawar wound up within 20 minutes with a call to him to take back his papers.

The meeting, expected to be stormy due to the widening rift with 13-year-old ally Congress, ended rather tamely with the legislators unanimously adopting a resolution requesting Pawar to withdraw his resignation.

It was decided that state NCP president Madhukar Pichad would convey the sentiments of the legislators to party chief Sharad Pawar who would take a final call on the resignation by the Deputy Chief Minister.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan it yet to accept the resignation of Pawar.

"A resolution was adopted requesting Pawar to take back his resignation," Pichad told reporters after the meeting at Vidhan Bhawan which was attended by all its 61 MLAs, nine independents supporting the party, besides half-a-dozen MLCs.

According to Pichad, only a resolution asking Pawar to withdraw the resignation was moved and adopted and there was no political discussion due to the passing away of veteran NCP leader and former state assembly speaker Babasaheb Kupekar.

Pawar had resigned yesterday following media reports about his alleged involvement in irrigation scam during his decade-long stint as water resources minister between 1999 and 2009.

All other 19 NCP ministers in the Prithviraj Chavan government offered to quit and even submitted their resignations to Pichad, plunging the state's coalition government into a crisis.

The NCP leaders, including some ministers accused of financial irregularities, suspected a Congress hand behind media reports targeting them.

Sharad Pawar and his trusted lieutenant and Union Minister Praful Patel, however, hastened to dispel the impression of the Congress-NCP dispensation in the state having been caught in the throes of a crisis, saying the party would not pull out of the government.

Ajit Pawar avoided the media at today's NCP legislature party meeting.

Meanwhile, Prithviraj Chavan stayed put at 'Varsha', the Chief Minister's official residence, confabulating with senior party leaders and ministers.

He has called an "informal" meeting of Congress legislators tomorrow.

"This will not be a formal meeting but the Chief Minister would be meeting party legislators to mull over the present political situation," a state Congress functionary said.

Tomorrow's meeting, according to sources who did not want to be named, has been called to express solidarity with Chavan, whom those in the NCP see as somebody who leaked the information intended to damage Pawar's reputation to the Opposition.

At a time when RTI Act is in force, information is easily available, they said.

On the issue of bringing a white paper on the status of irrigation projects, sources said it was the job of the concerned department and not the Chief Minister.

"The department can bring a cabinet note on the issue and put the information on the government's website," they said.

Chief Minister Chavan's announcement to bring a white paper on irrigation projects after state's economic survey revealed that only 0.1% additional area was brought under irrigation in a decade despite a whopping Rs72,000 crore being spent during the period, had also reportedly riled the NCP.

Pawar had yesterday resented delay in bringing the white paper.

The irrigation portfolio has been with the NCP since the coalition came into existence in 1999.

Noting that Pawar's resignation and the situation created in its aftermath was an "internal matter of the NCP", sources said they were following a policy of "wait and watch".


Bharti Wal-Mart may roll out outlets in Maharashtra, AP

Bharti Wal-Mart said it will be able to come out with specific plans with regard to retail business only after 45 days as the company is currently studying the government notification on FDI in retail

Hyderabad: Bharti Wal-Mart will not wait till all states in India allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail to roll out its plans and may start opening its outlets from states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, reports PTI quoting a top official of the retail giant.
Raj Jain, Managing Director and CEO of Bharti Wal-Mart said the company will be able to come out with specific plans with regard to retail business only after 45 days as it is currently studying the government notification.
The company is a 50:50 joint venture between Bharti Group and US-based Wal-Mart for wholesale cash and carry.
"I think there are enough states and big states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh which have expressed their willingness to allow FDI.
"I think those states are big enough to start our plans (for retail)," Jain told a press conference.
Recently, the government had allowed 51% FDI in multi-brand retail but left it to the states to permit opening of foreign funded stores.
Such stores would be allowed to be opened only in cities with a population of over one million.
A foreign retailer would need to invest a minimum of $100 million, of which 50% cent must be on back-end infrastructure within a period of three years of the commencement of the overall investment.
"It is only nine days since the FDA is opened in eight states. It is too early for us to share any clarity or details on our retail plans. We are studying the policy. It will take 45 days to come out with plans, Jain said in reply to a question. .
Earlier, Jain inaugurated Bharti Wal-Mart’s first 'Best Price' modern wholesale cash and carry store in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.
This is the 18th store in the country and third in Andhra Pradesh.
"We are ready to open another five to six (wholesale) store in this year and every year we will open about 10 Best Price stores with each outlet of about Rs35 crore investments.
"We are going to open two stores in AP in the next six months," Jain said.
Bharti Walmart is a major supplier to Bharti Retail, which runs over 205 retail stores in different formats under the 'Easyday' brand.
Commenting on the government decision to allow FDI in retail, he said it is a calibrated cautious approach even as there has been concerns from political parties and others on the policy.


SEBI chief UK Sinha's appointment under judicial scrutiny

The Supreme Court sent notices to Centre and UK Sinha to file replies on alleged irregularities in Sinha's appointment as SEBI Chairman. The Court also impleded Omita Paul following allegations that she bent rules to facilitate Sinha's appointment

New Delhi: The appointment of UK Sinha as chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has came under judicial scanner with the Supreme Court on Wednesday asking the union government to respond to a plea alleging various irregularities in his appointment, reports PTI.
A bench headed by Justice SS Nijjar issued notice to the Centre and the SEBI chairman, directing them to file their replies within four weeks on alleged irregularities in Sinha's appointment.
The bench also impleaded the President's Secretary Omita Paul, who was the advisor of the then finance minister when the decision to appoint Sinha as SEBI chairman was taken by the government.
The bench impleaded her after it was alleged that she had bent rules to facilitate Sinha's appointment as SEBI chairman by bypassing other candidates who had applied for the post.
The bench, however, refused to issue notice to the Centre on plea for CBI inquiry into appointment of Sinha.
The court passed the order on a PIL filed by one Arun Kumar Aggarwal, seeking to quash Sinha's appointment.


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