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Sonia's resignation not to benefit Congress in assembly polls-Left

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New Delhi, Mar 24 (UNI) The left parties today dismissed the BJP and other opposition parties charge that Congress chief Ms Sonia Gandhi held an 'office of profit' as the NAC Chairperson and rejected their demand for Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's resignation on a similiar charge.

However, they claimed that Ms Gandhi's resignation would, in no way, benefit her party in the forthcoming Assembly polls, saying that the people were ''mature enough not to be swayed by any such instant action.'' The CPI(M) also released a press statement here, reitrating its demand for necessary legislative action by Parliament itself, "without recourse to the ordinance route." "The post of Chairperson of the NAC can not be termed as an 'office of profit', as they had to discharge various public responsbilties by holding such positions," it said.

''Mr Chatterjee, as an MP, had been holding the post of Chairman of Sriniketan- Santiniketan for the past 17 years,'' the CPI(M) said, terming the demand for his resignation as ''baseless'' as it can not be termed as an 'office of profit'." Talking to UNI, top leaders of the CPI(M), CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP were unanimous in their opinon that the Congress chief's ''master stroke'' had taken the wind of the opposition's ''Sonia specific camaign.'' ''We should work to draw up a proper legislation that clearly defines the 'office of profit'. Till then political parties should desist from targetting individuals,'' adding that since Ms Gandhi had resigned, the opposition parties had no right to question her integrity.

CPI National Secretary Shamim Faizi felt Ms Gandhi's resigination would have no impact on the Assembly polls next month in West Begnal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Asom and Pondicherry as the the electorate in these states were ''politically very conscience.'' ''What really matters is the verdict given by the people of Rae Bareli as and when the by-election takes place there,'' he said, adding that it was sure that the BJP and other oppostion parties have now to "lick the dust because any political party which runs a person specific campaign faces a debacle." Mr Faizi, who is also the editor of the party's magazine The New Age, said it was the second time that the BJP attempted to build a ''Sonia-specific campaign'' and on both occasions, the move boomeranged on it.

While CPI(M) Polit Buroeau member Sitaram Yechury advocated that the Parliament was constitutionally empowered and competent enough to do the job to define the 'office of profit', Party Parliamentary Group leader in the Lok Sabha, Basudeb Achariya as confusion prevailed and there was no constitutional and legal clarity what constituted the Office of Profit, the job rested with the parlimanet to clarify the same.

On the impact of Ms Gandhi's resigination on the Assembly polls, Mr Achariya along with RSP leader MP Abani Roy and Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas held that it would have no impact there and that the Left was sure to continue its 27-year-long rule in West Bengal, regain it in Kerala and consolidate its postion in Tamil Nadu, Asom and Pondicherry.

While Mr Acharia pleaded that the BJP's attempt to target Ms Gandhi was "unethical and improper," Mr Roy said Ms Gandhi's move had definitely stunned the BJP and she gave a "befitting political reply to BJP's attempts to corner her on the issue." UNI KSA SHB GC1619

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