Pawar set to reshuffle party at government, organisational levels

Mumbai, June 7 (IANS) In a surprise move, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has secured the resignations of all his party ministers at the centre and in Maharashtra, a top party official said here late Friday.

He has simultaneously taken the resignations of certain other key party functionaries, including the state NCP Presidents, after a party convention here Friday.

The NCP chief is likely to soon carry out a major party reshuffle the official, requesting anonymity, said.

Top party officials, when contacted Friday night, declined to comment on the developments on-the-record.

The exercise of securing the resignations would pave the way for possible changes of representatives who would occupy cabinet posts.

While on one hand, some ministers may by drafted for party work prior to next year's Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections, other key party functionaries may be inducted into the cabinet, the official said.

"This is an internal matter of the NCP. The party chief will decide whether new faces should be inducted into the central and Maharashtra cabinets, and assigning fresh responsibilities to various leaders," the official added.

The developments assume significance amid speculation of cabinet reshuffles both at the centre and in Maharashtra.

Founded in 1999, the 14-year old NCP is a key constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance at the centre and is a partner in the Democratic Front government in Maharshtra.

The NCP has nine Lok Sabha Members and seven Rajya Sabha members, plus three cabinet ministers at the centre - Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel and Minister of State for Agriculture Tariq Anwar.

In Maharashtra, the NCP has 15 cabinet ministers, including the post of deputy chief minister occupied by Ajit Pawar, and five ministers of state. It has 62 legislators in the state.

The development was followed by reports of meetings among Congress leaders in the state and at the centre and the possibility of Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan travelling to New Delhi Saturday to meet top party leaders.

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