New Delhi: Signalling a big change in the party structure in the near future, four senior Congress ministers in the UPA government have offered to quit and expressed desire to work for the party.
As per reports, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vaylar Ravi, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh have written separate letters to Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressing their wish to work for the party.
The Congress is surely at crossroads after the disastrous performance in the recently concluded Assembly elections and Delhi Municipal election. Party leaders have been talking about the need for a complete overhaul of the party structure to make it fighting fit for Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held in 2014.
The offer to quit by senior ministers seems to be the first step in the endeavour. The move is seen more of an opportunity by the senior ministers to showcase their loyalty to the party, political observers say.
The plan to revive the Congress has been taken following the initial report of the AK Antony Committee, which looked into reasons for the party`s drubbing in the recently concluded Assembly elections.
The final report, which is likely to be submitted to Sonia Gandhi by end of April, points out that a weak organisation was the main reason behind the party`s rout.
The plan to revive the party by bringing in senior ministers back into the party is a revisit of Kamaraj Plan of the 1960s.
Under the Kamaraj Plan, several key Congress leaders of that time -- Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Morarji Desai, Biju Patnaik and SK Patil -- had resigned from their posts and went back to the party to revitalise it.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee dismissed the reports of ministers` offer to quit saying all Congress leaders are working for the party whether they are a part of the dispensation or the organisation.
"You people always are in the habit of some sort of imagination. Everybody is doing party work whether they are in government or outside government. Therefore I have nothing to comment on it," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters.
The ministers reportedly offering to quit have denied writing any letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Speaking to a news channel, Khurshid refused to directly comment on the report. He said, “Party comes first, party makes the government, government does not make the party. All people must be rooted in the party…party cannot ever can take a second position.”
Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vaylar Ravi also refuted writing any letter to the Congress president.
"I have never written any letter. Party made me the minister. Meanwhile, whenever I am there, whenever I do the ministerial work, I have been entrusted with the party work also occasionally," said Ravi.
Fuelling speculation further, Ramesh and Khurshid, met Gandhi at 10, Janpath. There was no official word on what they discussed.
Interestingly, Gandhi also held confabulations with top party brass including Pranab Mukherjee, AK Antony, P Chidambaram and Ahmed Patel at a ‘strategy meeting’ at her official residence. Pawan Kumar Bansal and V Narayanasami were also present.
The consultations took place hours after Gandhi held parleys with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Congress Core Group meeting.
The BJP has sharply reacted to the development. “It is a desperate gamble to demonstrate something new after the policy paralysis in governance”, said BJP leader Chandan Mitra.
“We don’t know where the country runs from – 10, Janpath or 7, RCR. Leaders leaving as ministers won’t change anything”, added BJP general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad.