M A I N   N E W S

Buck stops at my desk: Chidambaram
Offers to quit but PM says stay on
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
Taking responsibility for the Dantewada incident, the worst Naxalite carnage, Home Minister P Chidambaram offered his resignation from the Cabinet to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who today rejected it.

Chidambaram, who has handled the finance and commerce portfolios, had taken over as Home Minister in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. He, along with Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony, form the fulcrum of the government.

During the day-long televised see-saw, the Congress praised the Home Minister for owning moral responsibility for the attacks, while the BJP told him: “Do not quit”.

It all started around 10.20 am when Chidambaram, while addressing the CRPF personnel at Valour Day function at an institute in Vasant Kunj, dropped a hint. He admitted: “I have no hesitation in saying this … the buck stops at my desk”, a phrase used a few times in the past week for political scoring. He went on to add that he had assumed full responsibility for what happened in Dantewada and had even given in writing to the Prime Minister.

A man known to measure his words, the Home Minister stopped short of narrating everything “…And...let me stop here, let me not elaborate”. This was enough for the political hint of his words to sink in. Within an hour, the political set-up had revealed that Chidambaram had offered to step down. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the resignation had been rejected.

Yesterday, Chidambaram in reply to queries from reporters following a Cabinet meeting had said: “Nobody (in the Cabinet) asked me about the Dantewada incident”. His words had seemed odd but the real meaning emerged this morning.

By the afternoon, the political effect of the words was evident. The Congress rallied behind him. Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters: “The statement by the Home Minister to the Prime Minister owning full moral responsibility does not need to be commented upon. It is appreciated and commended”. He added, “No resignation has been accepted by the party high command.”

The party also advocated a two-pronged approach to control the Maoist menace in their areas of influence. The Centre will assist the state government in carrying out anti-Naxal operations and regain the territory from their influence. The second strategy was to address the socio-economic issues.

Meanwhile, the BJP also put its weight behind the Home Minister. A day after Arun Jaitely had said “the buck stops at the desk of the Home Minister”, party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy asked Chidambaram not to resign in the wake of Maoists' massacre.





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