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Riots push Dixit to Cong

New Delhi, Oct. 4: The Congress got a shot in the arm today when former foreign secretary J.N. Dixit accepted Sonia Gandhi’s offer to join the party.

Sources said that for more than two years, Sonia had been urging ‘Mani’ Dixit to “help her out” but the career diplomat was avoiding it on the grounds that he wanted more “independence” to articulate his views.

By Dixit’s own admission, the riots in Gujarat changed this attitude. “Post Gujarat, I realised it was time to strengthen the democratic and secular forces in the country,” he said.

Explaining his decision to join the Congress, Dixit said though he had retired eight years ago, the Gujarat tragedy and accusations that intellectuals merely gave suggestions forced him to join active politics.

Senior Congress leader and chairman of the AICC’s foreign affairs department K. Natwar Singh announced the development in Dixit’s presence, welcoming him into the party fold. Singh said Dixit was in constant touch with Sonia. “Dixit’s presence in the party would help the foreign affairs department as well as the party as a whole,” Singh said, adding that he knew the career diplomat personally since he first joined Indian Foreign Service in 1958.

Dixit said he has been an apolitical civil servant for a number of years and whatever he has learned during that period would contribute in strengthening democratic institutions in the country through the Indian National Congress.

He recalled his family’s association with the Congress that dated back to the pre-Independence era. “My parents were members of the Congress between 1921 and 1946, but resigned when the nation got its freedom in August 1947,” Dixit said.

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