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When the PM decided to quit

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | December 01, 2008 14:23 IST

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The war of conflicting ideas has broken out within the Congress party.

Though there is no official confirmation available, reliable sources in the United Progressive Alliance government say that Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] disagree on certain issues, which had come to the fore over the sacking of Home Minister Shivraj Patl.

The internal politics had led Dr Singh to offer his own resignation in the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday.
According to a The Economic Times report, 'Even before Mr Shivraj Patil [Images] had offered his resignation at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had stunned the party brass by expressing his desire to quit, saying he had, as head of the government, more than anybody else, the moral responsibility for what happened in Mumbai. The entire Congress leadership, led by Sonia Gandhi, unitedly and vociferously, turned down his offer, reposing its faith in his leadership and asked Mr Singh to continue.' 

When the resignation drama played out in the CWC, all the members were told not to leak the discussions in the meeting to the media.

But the fact that Dr Singh was 'sulking' could not be kept a secret.

In the CWC meeting, tempers ran high and members sought to know why the PM and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had taken a 'pacifist' view of the terror attack on Mumbai.

Gandhi, livid at the utter failure of the government, had decided before the CWC meeting  to ask the PM to sack Home Minister Shivraj Patil, informed a high-level source in the government.

Dr Singh was 'forced' by the Congress party to announce Patil's resignation on Sunday itself, without any further delay.

Gandhi is disturbed by media reports that suggest she is protecting Patil. The fact is that  everybody wants to disown Patil, the fallen guy, now.
According to Congress sources, for some 'curious' reason, the Prime Minister's Office has been reluctant to sack Patil, whenever the demand for the home minister's resignation surfaced in the past. The pressure to sack Patil had built up within the party for his utter failure in managing internal security.
Leaders of the Congress party, who are Left-liberals or liberals in their ideology, and due to their growing old Congress culture, are irritated by Pakistan and do not want American pressure on this issue.

Congress leaders, with old-style Congress attitude, said the government should take decisions which were in the best interest of India and this was not the time to play out regional politics.

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