I resigned in deference to popular anguish: Deshmukh

December 4th, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Ram Gopal VarmaMumbai, Dec 4 (IANS) Maharashtra’s outgoing Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said Thursday that he had resigned “in deference to popular anguish” following the Mumbai terror attack and was not making an “ignominious exit”.Deshmukh, who attracted public ire for taking filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma and his actor son Riteish Deshmukh to the ravaged Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel after the terrorist operation was over, said: “I resigned in deference to the popular anguish in the aftermath of the terror strike in Mumbai, owning up moral responsibility for the loss of innocent lives.”

“But I am happy that I am not making an ignominious exit with any stigma on my head or strictures passed at me,” the Congress leader said at a press conference here.

In a hurriedly called “thanksgiving” press conference - his last as the two-time chief minister of India’s most internationally known state - Deshmukh candidly accepted the state government’s part in the failure in saving lives in the Nov 26 terror strike.

The Congress leader also admitted that taking Varma and his son to the Taj was a mistake: “I have apologised for that.”

He said he had offered to resign on his own at Saturday’s Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting and the party leadership was obviously right in accepting the offer in view of the overall situation and hostile popular sentiment triggered by the terror strike.

“There is no question of any pressure, either from my party or from ally, the Nationalist Congress Party for my resignation,” Deshmukh clarified.

The Congress leadership had Wednesday communicated to Deshmukh its decision that he had to go. The party’s Maharashtra affairs in-charge A.K. Antony announced in Delhi that two party observers would hear out their state legislators on Deshmukh’s successor.

Thanking Congress president Sonia Gandhi for giving him an opportunity to lead the state government for over seven years in two stints (1999-2003 and 2004-2008), Deshmukh said he would carry out whatever responsibility the party bestowed on him in future.

“The Congress legislature party will elect its new leader today (Thursday) and we (the party in the state) will together face the forthcoming assembly election and win on the strength of our achievements in the last four years”, he said.

“The state faced daunting problems like the 2005 deluge in Mumbai, the suburban train blasts and Malegaon bomb blasts after that besides farm suicides and power crisis but acquitted itself well,” he asserted.

Deshmukh counted stabilisation of the state’s economy, special economic zones (SEZs) and Mumbai makeover projects as the plus-side of his tenure.

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