Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath on Wednesday night wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi, expressing desire to be relieved from the charge of poll-bound Punjab in view of raging controversy over his recent appointment because of his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Gandhi immediately accepted his resignation and relieved him of his charge as party general secretary.
Nath, who was appointed as the general secretary in-charge of Punjab as well as Haryana only three days back, said in his letter to Gandhi, “.. I request that I may be relieved of my charge (of Punjab) to ensure that the attention is not diverted from the real issues facing Punjab.”
He said he was “hurt by the developments of the past few days wherein an unnecessary controversy has been created around the tragic 1984 riots in New Delhi.”
Insisting that there was not even any complaint or first information report (FIR) against him in the riots case, Kamal Nath said, “this canard is therefore nothing but a cheap political ploy to gain traction ahead of the elections…. Certain elements are raking up these issues now only for political gains.”
Expressing gratitude to Gandhi for appointing him as general secretary in charge of Punjab, the Congress leader wrote, “I am practitioner of Nehruvian politics and maligning of the Congress party using false accusations is unacceptable to me. I wish the party to focus on the upcoming elections and highlight the issues of misgovernance, misery of the farmers and youth, break down of law and order and rampant drug trade that caused untold misery to the people of Punjab.”
Soon after, party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said the Congress president had accepted Nath’s resignation as All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary. “Kamal Nath has tendered his resignation from the responsibilities assigned to him in AICC. On his request, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has accepted his resignation,” Surjewala said.
Nath’s step came as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) kept up attack on him and the Congress over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which followed the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
“Till 2005, not a single public statement, complaint or FIR was ever made against me and the first time my name was ever mentioned in any forum was 21 years after 1984,” Kamal Nath wrote. The Nanavati Commission set up by the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government “after proper investigation fully absolved me”, he added.
“Even during a subsequent motion, to discuss the commission’s report in Parliament, none of the AKali-BJP MPs including Sukhbir Singh Badal mentioned my name,” he said. Nath told the Congress president that he has been blessed to have a long career with the Congress right from youth Congress to being general secretary to being a minister in the Congress governments since 1991 and “never has there been any stigma attached to my name.” “It was not even an issue when I was general secretary in charge of Delhi, rather we won the MCD (Municipal Corporation Of Delhi) elections during my tenure,” he said