Cong leader resigns; BJP's call for Lok Sabha dissolution

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Mumbai, Mar 23 (UNI) Expressing solidarity with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party Lok Sabha member and city chief Gurudas Kamat announced his resignation from both offices, while senior BJP leader Ram Naik called for dissolution of Lok Sabha , saying '' political weapon used by Smt Sonia Gandhi against Smt Jaya Bachchan has boomeranged. '' Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh described Ms Gandhi's act a ''fitting reply'' to the BJP's smear campaign against her, while AICC general secretary Margaret Alwa said '' BJP's effort to malign her by judging her on their own standards of power-mongering has backfired. She will be back in Parliament with high moral authority and support from Rai Bareli.'' In a statement here this evening, Mr Kamat said he had sent his resignation to Mrs Gandhi both as an MP and as Mumbai Congress chief. He appealed to all party MPs to prove that Congressmen are not hankering for power but would like to set an example that the Congress President's loyal soldiers would follow in her footsteps.

Mr Kamat said said the opposition's allegation against Ms Gandhi ''stands totally disproved by her voluntary signation. '' ''This sacrifice of her positions has once again reaffirmed her image of her commitment for selfless service to the people of the country.'' Claiming that '' political weapon used by Smt Sonia Gandhi against Smt Jaya Bachchan has boomeranged ,'' creating an unprecedented choas in the Indian democracy, Mr Naik, president of BJP national disciplionary committee, said: '' The President of ruling party, Lok Sabha Speaker and some other top brass have violated the law of the land. It is a total fraud on the people of the country. Instead of resorting to dramatic acrobatics the best course would be to dissolve the Lok Sabha and seek fresh mandate from the people of India''.

Stating that Ms Gandhi has set a new standard of value-based politics, Mr Deshmukh said Maharashtra and Mumbai units of the Congress feel proud of her and are unitedly with her in her decisions.

Ms Alva said ''BJP's effort to malign her by judging her on their own standards of power-mongering has backfired. She will be back in Parliament with high moral authority and support from Rai Bareli.'' MPCC chief Prabha Rau said the AICC chief had once again proved that she holds moral values in public life higher than posts of power.

Rejecting that Ms Gandhi's decision has plunged the Congress in a crisis, Ms Alwa said ''Infact, the Congress party has gained high moral ground. Ms Gandhi continues to be our leader whether she is holding any post or not.'' She denied that Ms Gandhi's resignation was part of any larger political strategy. ''She makes her own mind.'' Ms Alva disclosed that 70 MPs across political spectrum hold some post or the other associated with the government, adding all political parties, especially the NDA, wanted a legislation to amend the disqualification act. She said the Opposition tried to project that an ordinance was planned to protect Ms Gandhi only but she by her decision has dispelled the notion effectively.

On whether more MPs would follow her, Ms Alva said, '' It is upto them to decide.'' Ms Alva maintained that Ms Gandhi's resignation will have no impact on the UPA government. ''In terms of numbers, the Opposition will lose more,'' she added.

Denying the charge that Ms Jaya Bachchan was ''hounded'' by the Congress, Ms Alva , however, said her case brought into focus that even the Lok Sabha Speaker and Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha also head some institutions.

Mr Deshmukh said Maharashtra has already passed an Act excluding certain offices from the purview of ''office of profit.'' However, ''We will consult the legal department again, in the backdrop of the Jaya Bachchan case.'' Revenue Minister Narayan Rane said he was proud of his leader, who has relinquished office to maintain morality.

State BJP president Nitin Gadkari, while welcoming the resignation said, '' This has shown that law of the land should be equal for all.'' Film actor Nagma said Ms Gandhi's act has once again proved that she is the 'Mother India', firstly by not accepting the post of Prime Minister, and now by resigning from the lower House.

The Congress party had put Nagma on their election campaign in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, but later withdrew her following allegations that she had links with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

UNI VP-MR-JM GK/SA SB RS2123

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