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Resignations and the politics within

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI DEC. 22. The resignation of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) office-bearers and its rejection by the party president, Sonia Gandhi, on Sunday appears to be yet another chapter in the tussle among the factions contending to have a greater say in the party affairs.

The manner in which some pro-establishment young leaders made the move is seen by some senior members as designs to ease them out of the party apparatus, ahead of the imminent organisational reshuffle.

It is understood that on Friday, a group of office-bearers, including the political secretary to the party president, Ahmed Patel, and all general secretaries, the party chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, and the Rajya Sabha Congress Deputy Chief Whip, Suresh Pachouri, met Ms. Gandhi.

Over discussions on how to strengthen the party and prepare for the Lok Sabha elections ahead, there was a suggestion that a thorough revamp was needed. After the December 4 Assembly election results, Ms. Gandhi had indicated that there would be a reshuffle.

Sensing an opportunity, some of the leaders considered to be in the inner circle of the Congress president, preferred to put in their papers and made it known that it was being done to give Ms. Gandhi a "free hand" in carrying out a reorganisation. By Sunday, the news about the resignation of the office-bearers had spread, but confusion prevailed over reports suggesting that even the members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) had either quit or offered to do so.

Some senior leaders had, in private, argued that while they had offered to resign during the December 7 meeting of the CWC, it was entirely the prerogative of the party president to decide whom to include in her team. In view of the prevailing uncertainty, amid conflicting reports that all the CWC members were putting in their papers, some senior leaders found it necessary to check with the high command. Sources in the party said it was after this late evening "check" that Ms. Gandhi directed the media department to convey that she had declined to accept the resignations.

The party chief spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy, said the office-bearers who had resigned had done so on their own.

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