Deshmukh’s fate hangs in balance, R.R. Patil quits after terror attack (Roundup, combining different series)

December 1st, 2008 - 7:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Sushil KumarMumbai/New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s fate hung in the balance Monday while the resignation of his deputy, R.R. Patil, was accepted following scathing criticism of their response to the Mumbai terror carnage that has left at least 183 dead.A decision on Deshmukh’s resignation would be taken after consulting the allies in Maharashtra, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in New Delhi Monday.

“Vilasrao Deshmukh has offered to resign. We have to consult our allies before we take a decision,” Antony, who is also in-charge of the Maharashtra unit of the Congress, told reporters.

Sources in the Congress said in New Delhi that Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was likely to succeed Deshmukh.

Antony and new Home Minister P. Chidambaram Monday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the issue.

Deshmukh told reporters at a press conference in Mumbai that he had offered to resign following the terror attacks but the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was yet to accept his resignation.

“I accept moral responsibility for the terror attacks and have offered to resign. It is up to the CWC to decide whether to accept my resignation,” he said.

Deshmukh added that he had accepted Patil’s resignation. Later in the evening, Raj Bhavan announced Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir had accepted the resignation.

“Patil’s resignation, forwarded by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh earlier in the day, has been accepted and the Chief Minister has been informed accordingly,” public relations officer Umesh Kashikar told IANS.

“Patil tendered his resignation to the chief minister in the morning owning up responsibility for the Mumbai attack,” his aide told IANS in Mumbai.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and union minister Sharad Pawar had earlier Monday said he had requested Deshmukh to accept Patil’s resignation.

“Today he (Patil) communicated his resignation to the chief minister. I requested (Deshmukh) to accept the resignation,” Pawar told reporters in Mumabi.

Patil, who was also the state home minister, is a senior leader of Pawar’s NCP - a coalition ally of the Congress-led government in Maharashtra.

Pawar said Patil had offered to step down soon after the attack Wednesday but held back after his request.

“After such a serious problem in Mumbai everybody was shocked… I requested him to let the (anti-terror) operation continue,” he said.

Patil had drawn flak for his remark that “small incidents like this do happen in big cities”, a reference to the Mumbai terror attack that began Wednesday and went on till Saturday. He had been speaking to reporters Saturday, when the operation to flush out terrorists was still on at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel.

Reacting to Patil’s resignation, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “The Congress picking up some vulnerable faces like Shivraj Patil, R.R Patil or Vilasrao Deshmukh to curb public anger would be of no use. The government should take tough measures as it is the time for action.”

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