Monday, April 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Shanta Kumar resigns from Union Cabinet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
Rural Development Minister Shanta Kumar today resigned from the Union Cabinet following the poor showing by the BJP in the Assembly poll in Himachal Pradesh, largely attributed to indiscipline within the state party leadership.

Mr Shanta Kumar met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee this evening and submitted his resignation. Sources said his resignation had been accepted and Union Urban Development Minister Ananth Kumar was likely to be given the additional charge of the portfolio for the time being.

The sources said Mr Vajpayee held a closed-door meeting with Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and party President Venkaiah Naidu during the National Executive meeting at Indore yesterday. The sources added that subsequently, Mr Shanta Kumar was summoned to the meeting and might have been asked to tender his resignation.

The sources said the BJP leadership wanted to send a strong message to the party cadres ahead of the Assembly poll in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi that the party would not hesitate to crack the whip to tackle any form of indiscipline within.

Immediately after the debacle in the Himachal Pradesh poll, the BJP had formed a three-member committee headed by Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley to identify the primary reasons behind the poor showing of the party.

The committee, which also included party in charge of Himachal Pradesh O.P. Kohli and former Delhi Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana, had concluded that indiscipline within the state BJP unit was instrumental for the loss.

After the elections, Mr Shanta Kumar did not mince any words in pointing out that the result of the elections were the response of the people to the governance of the then Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal.

Mr Shanta Kumar’s resignation comes two days after BJP President Mr Venkaiah Naidu said “the standards of indiscipline in the Himachal unit of BJP let the party down”.

HAMIRPUR: The resignation of Union Rural Development Minister Shanta Kumar was received with shock and surprise in various parts of Hamirpur district this evening.

Former Chief Minister and Senior BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal said he was surprised at this news. When asked to comment on this, he said that he was with Mr Shanta Kumar two days ago at Indore and both had dined together. However, Mr Shanta Kumar had given no hint to him that day about his resignation. He said there was nothing more to comment on this. 

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