M A I N   N E W S

Sonia rejects AICC members’ offer to quit
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
Members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and AICC office-bearers have resigned to enable party President Sonia Gandhi to undertake a comprehensive revamp of the organisation ahead of Lok Sabha poll.

However, in a virtual anti-climax, Congress President Sonia Gandhi late tonight rejected the resignation offers of senior AICC office-bearers to enable her to reconstitute the party’s top hierarchy in the wake of the debacle in recent Assembly poll in three states.

“The party President rejected the offer of resignations of CWC members in the AICC set-up and asked them to continue to work for the party,” AICC media secretary Tom Vadakkan said.

A restructuring of the party set-up had been on the anvil following its disastrous performance in the recent Assembly elections. Ms Sonia Gandhi herself had said as much after the last CWC meeting, which was specially called to analyse the election results.

Although the revamp was expected, it was believed this exercise would be undertaken only after the Pranab Mukherjee committee, studying the reasons for the party’s debacle, submitted its report. This five-member committee was also to give recommendations on the party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha polls.

There was no official word about today’s development but individual members, when contacted, admitted having tendered their resignations. They said they had taken this decision to give the party president a free hand in reconstituting her team.

Describing this exercise as ‘childish’, several senior leaders wondered why they should be required to put in their papers. ‘‘It is the party president’s prerogative to constitute her team ...nobody is questioning it and nobody should feel bad if anybody is included or dropped,’’ said one bitter senior leader.

Speaking in the same vein, others said this was nothing but a knee-jerk response to the election results. ‘‘Just because we have lost in these elections, does not mean we have to mourn about it,’’ commented another senior leader, adding that instead of blaming each other, the party should get together and chalk out its strategy for the Lok Sabha polls.

Party sources disclosed that the move on the resignations gained ground after a meeting of senior party leaders, convened at Ms. Gandhi’s residence on Friday night.

While analysing the party’s performance and how it should now move ahead, it was suggested by senior leader Suresh Pachouri that the party be revamped so as to send out the right message.

Several others present, including Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, maintained that if the reconstitution was to be a serious exercise, then all members should first submit their resignations.

While senior leader Kamal Nath and Ahmed Patel were reported to have submitted their resignations that night itself, the others followed over the next two days. While some senior leaders maintained that Mr Patel had called them and suggested they tender their resignations, Mr Patel denied doing so.

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