The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia pulls curtains on quit show
- Flurry of resignations in Ambika Soni-led camp

New Delhi, Dec. 21: Congress president Sonia Gandhi tonight drew the curtain down on a surprise resignation drama staged by the dominant Ambika Soni camp in the AICC to draw attention away from the debate on the party’s poll reverses.

Under pressure to own up responsibility for the debacle, the clique led by Soni, the most powerful AICC general secretary over the last couple of years, set off a flurry of resignations from their AICC positions as well as from the working committee.

“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,” a spokesman said, confirming the belief that the move did not have Sonia’s blessing.

Other than Ambika Soni, those who had resigned included the Congress president’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel, and Kamal Nath, a general secretary.

They sent their resignation letters to the party chief who had said on December 7 that she would “give a thought” to revamping her AICC team.

Party treasurer Motilal Vora and another general secretary, Mukul Wasnik, both identified with the Soni camp, followed suit. Vora said they resigned from the party post and CWC membership “to enable Soniaji to reconstitute her team”.

Anand Sharma, however, said in a statement: “As and when the reorganisation is considered and required at an appropriate time, the same shall be communicated to the media.”

The resignation moves came ahead of the second meeting of the CWC to discuss the poll shock. The meeting was to have been scheduled immediately after a five-member committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee submitted its report, expected shortly.

A mass resignation might have deflected attention from fixing responsibility. Indeed, since the resignations were also from the CWC, there was a question mark over it meeting at all to exclusively discuss the defeat.

The Soni camp also tossed up the idea of convening the AICC by the middle of next month, which, too, would have shifted focus from a debate on the poll results to organising the session.

Under attack for having presided over the loss in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the Soni camp succeeded in rustling up a number of resignations. Vilasrao Deshmukh, a working committee member holding charge of Chhattisgarh, sent his following a call from Patel, who was persuading Vayalar Ravi, a general secretary who was away in Kerala, to do the same.

Mohsina Kidwai, a general secretary not associated with the camp, was apparently angry, but she, too, sent in her papers.

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