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CWC members, AICC office-bearers resign


New Delhi, May 19
All members of Congress Working Committee and office-bearers of All India Congress Committee resigned last night in protest against party President Sonia Gandhi's decision not to accept Prime Ministership. This was announced by Congress General Secretary Ambika Soni at a press conference here today.

"We want to tell her that her decision was not acceptable and she should take it back," Soni said. Asked about meetings with allies and friendly parties, she said that they have all been "pressurising" and "persuading" Ms Gandhi to change her mind and accept the top job. "All meetings are towards that end," Ms Soni said.

Ms Soni said a delegation of senior leaders, including Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Arjun Singh, Mr Gulam Nabi Azad, Mr Ahmed Patel, Mr Natwar Singh and she, would be meeting Gandhi later in the day to put "as much pressure as possible" to make her withdraw her decision.

Soni made it clear that the remarks and "petty behaviour" of BJP and NDA leaders against Gandhi had not influenced her decision against accepting the high office.

She said in the last three to four days the party has been facing a "crisis and dilemma".

On the one hand there is the mandate in favour of Gandhi and lakhs of Congress workers across the country, especially from Rae Bareili and Amethi, agitating, she said.

On the other hand, it has been Sonia's "inner voice" telling her against becoming the Prime Minister while continuing to serve the country to further strengthen its secular fabric, she added. PTI



Newly elected Cong MPs to resign: Soni


New Delhi, May 19
All newly elected Congress MPs have decided to resign to protest against party President Sonia Gandhi's refusal to accept the post of Prime Minister. Announcing this before a large gathering of Congress supporters outside Gandhi's residence, party general secretary Ambika Soni said the MPs resignations would be taken to party president by senior leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Arjun Singh and Ahmed Patel, when they meet her later in the day.

Soni told reporters that all the newly elected party MPs will be carrying their resignation letters to give it to Gandhi when they are expected to meet her in the evening. PTI




Melee at AICC headquarters
Cong men disrupt media briefing


New Delhi, May 19
Hundreds of agitated Congress workers today smashed the main gate of the media hall at AICC headquarters where Party General Secretary Ambika Soni was briefing the press on political developments.

The party workers first tried to enter the media room where Ms Soni and Mr S. Jaipal Reddy were addressing a crowded press conference, and failing to do so, they hurled stones and smashed windowpanes disrupting the meeting and injuring a journalist.

Soni and Reddy stopped the briefing midway and left the hall through a side door.

Shouting 'Sonia Gandhi Zindabad' and "Desh ki neta kaisi ho, Sonia Gandhi jaisi ho," they protested her decision not to become the Prime Minister and demanded that she withdraw her decision forthwith.

Earlier in the morning, Congress workers attacked the crew of a private TV channel when a journalist was reporting that Manmohan Singh could be the next Prime Minister.

"Either it is Sonia or nobody," the Congress men shouted. Police forces rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control even as tempers continued to run high.

Ms Soni addressed party workers outside 10, Janpath, in a bid to pacify them.

The injured journalist was seen bleeding profusely after being hit by the broken windowpanes. PTI




Sonia, Singh likely to meet Kalam this evening


New Delhi, May 19
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh are expected to meet President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam this evening, a senior Congress leader said.

The party had this morning circulated a draft resolution for electing Singh as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary party in the wake of Gandhi's decision not to accept Prime Ministership.

The senior leader, however, later told reporters that the draft resolution was not required since the party had last night left it to Gandhi to take a decision on Prime Ministership. PTI

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