Even as the Congress staged a walkout at the end of the debate over price rise in the Rajya Sabha, ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar sought clarification from the government on payments to sugarcane farmers. Food and civil supplies minister Ram Vilas Paswan responded by saying that sugar mill-owners owed money to the farmers.
What stood out was that NCP, part of the Congress-led UPA, was following its own path, widening the rift between the two parties. The Congress and the NCP are falling out over seat sharing in the forthcoming assembly election in Maharashtra. The two parties have been running a coalition government in the state for the last 15 years.
A senior Rajya Sabha leader of the NCP, speaking on condition of anonymity, told dna that the events in the Rajya Sabha were the result of a sheer lack of coordination between the two parties. He said nothing more should be read into the Congress' walkout even as the NCP stayed put.
Asked whether a recent meeting between Pawar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signifed the NCP's shift away from the Congress, he explained that the meeting between the two took place on a request from the prime minister's office (PMO). He said that Modi wanted to know from Pawar about dealing with the prospects of an inadequate monsoon and the potential drought conditions.