Sonia resigns as MP and NAC Chairperson

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New Delhi, Mar 23 (UNI) In a deft move to silence detractors out to discredit her on the "Office-of-Profit" controversy, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today announced her resignation as a member of the Lok Sabha as well as the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC), asserting that she was in public life not for personal gains but to serve the people of the nation.

As the issue of Parliamentarians and legislators holding offices of profit threatened to snowball into a major controversy, the 59-year-old widow of Rajiv Gandhi, took the sting out of the Opposition's campaign against her by calling it quits.

She, however, made it clear that she would recontest from the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat.

In a brief statement she read out to media at her 10, Janpath residence, Ms Gandhi said an atmosphere had been created in the country in the past two days to give an impression that the government and Parliament were "being missued for my cause only." She said "this has hurt me greatly" since she was in public life not for any personal gains but for serving the people of this country and protect its secular values.

Hours later, senior Congress leader Dr Karan Singh, who is also the president of Indian Concil for Cultural Relations, tonight resigned from the membership of the Rajya Sabha over the controversy of parliamentarians and legislators holding offices of profit. He sent his resignation to Mrs Gandhi.

In a statement issued here, Dr Singh said,'' I am conviced that neither the presidentship of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations nor the Chairmanship of the Auroville Foundation constitutes offices of profit. I, however, feel that as my name has also figured in the media, and as in my public life of over half a century I have always striven to uphold the highest principles of polity and propriety, I should resign from the Rajya Sabha.'' Meanwhile, the resignation of Mrs Gandhi 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 xxxxx EDS Pls pick up from para 7 of DI 95 'Politics-Third lead-Sonia Resigns xxxx.

UNI TEAM RL RS2335

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