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Sonia Gandhi resigns from Lok Sabha seat

By Super

New Delhi, Mar 23: Upset over her image being sullied in the In a move likely to boost her image and score a point over the Opposition clamouring for her disqualification from the Lok Sabha for allegedly holding an office of profit, Ms Gandhi said she was resigning as an MP in consistent with the values of the public life and politics.

Reading out a statement in Hindi to the media, Ms Gandhi said "an atmosphere is being sought to be built up in the country to give the impression as if the Government and Parliament are being used to back me," adding "this has greatly pained me." "I have already stated that I did not come into public life and politics to further my personal interests," she said.

"I have taken a resolve to serve the country and the Indian society as also protect the secular values," the Congress President said.

The move caught her own party colleagues as well as the Opposition by surprise as it came a day after the Budget Session of Parliament was abruptly adjourned sine die without the traditional recess as media reports suggested that the government might bring in an ordinance on the "Office-of-Profit" issue to prevent the disqualification of Ms Gandhi as well as some top leaders from Parliament for holding positions which gave them pecuniary benefits.

The sword of disqualification from Parliament on Ms Gandhi and other leaders had been hanging ever since Mrs Jaya Bachchan was disqualified from the Rajya Sabha by President A P J Abdul Kalam who accepted the recommendation of the Election Commission in this regard as the Samajwadi Party member is also the Chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council.

Political circles were agog with speculation that Ms Gandhi's resignation might trigger a chain reaction with Parliamentarians and legislators holding offices of profit considering whether they should follow suit.

She said she would contest again from Rae Bareli, but refused to say anything on a reported ordinance to take out certain posts from the purview of the office of profit.

The BJP was quick to react, saying Ms Gandhi's resignation was a desperate attempt to ''save her face'' in the midst of developments that have taken place in the last few days.

The politics of revenge had recoiled and Ms Gandhi's resignation from the two posts was nothing but the ''confession of a culprit caught red-handed while trying to subvert the Constitution and the democracy, BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley said.

Congress workers besieged her residence as soon the news about her resignation spread. the scenes outside 10, Janpath, were reminiscent of the scenes witnessed in May 2004, when she announced her decision not to take over as the Prime Minister after the General elections.

People of Rae Bareli came out into the streets shouting pro-Sonia Gandhi slogans after the news of her resignation from the Lok Sabha seat was announced.

Equating her with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, locals gathered at the Rae Bareli Congress office and shouted slogans.

Ms Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and her party's Core Group leaders before she announced her decision to resign as an MP and as Chairperson of the NAC to inform them of her intention to quit. Other leaders were informed of her decision on phone. By the time she concluded reading out her statement at 10 Janpath,a big crowd of her supporters had gathered outside her residence shouting slogans The Congress had consistently maintained that Ms Gandhi was not keeping an office of profit by holding Cabinet rank as Chairperson of the National Advisory Council arguing that the Council was of Advisory nature and its recommendations were not binding on the Government.

The BJP Opposition had met the President yesterday urging him not to sign the proposed Ordinance to be issued to redefine the office of profit.

The Ordinance,if issued,would save the membership of Parliament of as many as 44 MPs from different parties against whom petitions demanding their disqualification on the ground of holding office of profit. The Opposition had propagated that the proposed ordinance was being brought to beneift Ms Gandhi particularly.

The campaign against Ms Gandhi was triggered off after Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan,wife of cinestar Amitabh Bachchan,was disqualified from her membership of the Rajya Sabha on the ground that she was holding an office of profit as Chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council. SP General Secretary Amar Singh also faced the prospect of disqualification from Rajya Sabha membership.


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