Patil quits over Mumbai terror, Chidambaram gets home ministry (Second Lead)

November 30th, 2008 - 4:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Shivraj PatilNew Delhi, Nov 30 (IANS) Home Minister Shivraj Patil resigned Sunday in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist massacre, and Finance Minister P. Chidamabarm was promptly given additional charge of the critical ministry, Congress sources said.Patil sent his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh following a late night meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) Saturday where he offered to step down after colleagues demanded stern steps to salvage the image of the Congress-led government.

Kerala Congress unit president Ramesh Chennithala told IANS later that Chidambaram, a former minister of state for home affairs, would take charge of the home ministry.

Patil’s resignation is seen as a damage control exercise by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“Yes, he (Patil) has taken the moral responsibility and has decided to quit,” Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan earlier told reporters here.

“(What happened in Mumbai) is horror and the government is taking it very, very seriously. It was an outrageous attack on India’s sovereignty,” she said.

Congress sources said Patil took the decision to leave the cabinet in the wake of widespread criticism of his handling of the home ministry as well as the failure to check recurring terrorist attacks in India.

According to home ministry figures, the country has witnessed 64 bomb blasts in less than six months this year. These have claimed more than 215 lives and left over 900 injured.

“Public outrage was mounting after the Mumbai attacks and there had to be some accountability,” a cabinet minister IANS.

Many cabinet members had said that “strong action” was required at the highest level following the most audacious terror attacks India has ever seen.

Terrorists who India says came from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai by boat Wednesday night and killed 183 people, including 22 foreigners, leaving the country stunned.

Even as security forces fought the terrorists who took over two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre with hostages, Patil came under further attack for revealing publicly the number of commandos and when they left New Delhi for Mumbai.

Highly placed sources told IANS that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was “disappointed” that the home ministry failed to prevent Mumbai from being held ransom for three days and made his displeasure very apparent.

“Manmohan Singh was personally monitoring operations in Mumbai and the fact that Patil was not called to the high-level security meeting in the aftermath of the Mumbai operations was enough indication (that he was on his way out),” said a cabinet source.

Patil’s resignation came amid elections in six states whose outcome is expected to have a bearing on Lok Sabha polls due early next year.

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