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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2954

Accountability for Mumbai attacks: more heads roll in India

By M Rama Rao, India Editor, Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 02 December, ( As public outcry continues for accountability of the political class for the 50-hour terrorist siege of Mumbai, more heads have begun to roll.

The Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra R. R. Patil who is also the interior minister of the province, has put in his papers. His boss, chief minister Vilasarao Deshmukh is also on his way out. He is on oxygen as his successor is yet to be identified.

The expectation here is that some scalps will be claimed at the administrative level also, The Union Home Secretary and the Chief of Intelligence Bureau will be shifted out.

The Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil was axed Sunday itself. Palaniappan Chidambaram, the finance minister, has been moved to the Home. He has got down to his new work. One of the early callers on Chidambaram was M K Narayanan, the National Security Advisor, NSA, who himself was on the firing line at one stage.

Narayanan briefed the new Home Minister on the internal security situation and the investigations into the terror strikes in Mumbai which claimed over 180 lives.

Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta had met Chidambaram on Sunday itself and gave him a run down on the ministry in the context of terrorist menace.

In his first interaction as Home Minister of India, Chidambaram said, 'I was disinclined' (to move to the Home Ministry) but in a situation like this, "I answered to the call of duty".

He added: "When the Prime Minister conveyed the decision to me, I will be less than honest if I do not say that I was disinclined, but in a situation like the one we find ourselves, the final call is taken by the party leader, in my case the Congress president and the Prime Minister. I therefore answered to the call of duty".

His predecessor, Shivraj Patil was known as the Sonia loyalist; her adverse remarks at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Saturday sealed his fate. Sonia Gandhi appears to have taken cognizance of the public outcry against the political class as a whole and the Home Minister in particular inn the wake of terrorist onslaught on Mumbai which lasted for nearly 50 hours.

She had herself set the tone at the CWC for accountability by expressing unhappiness over the terrorist attacks at regular intervals. Others picked up the cue soon.

Another Patil Goes

After union home minister Shivraj Patil, it was the turn of Maharashtra deputy chief minister R. R. Patil to quit owning moral responsibility for the Mumbai terror attacks.

Chief Minister Vilasarao Deshmukh forwarded Patil's resignation to the Governor S C Jamir and it was promptly accepted.

R. R. Patil has been under severe criticism following the terror attacks with opposition Shiv Sena and BJP demanding his resignation alleging that he failed to handle the situation. Initially he refused to go saying there was no need for him to resign. But his party, Sharad Pawar, prevailed over him. What had cost him the job was his insensitive comparison of the jihadi atrocity against Mumbai to a routine law and order incident in the city. " It (the siege of Mumbai's iconic hotels) is a small incident and such things can happen in big cities", he told a news conference on Sunday."

Pawar is expected to nominate Chhagan Bhujbal, the OBC face of NCP or his nephew, Ashok Pawar as the deputy chief minister.

'I have submitted my resignation letter to chief minister Vilasarao Deshmukh. I have gone by my conscience and decided to take this step', Patil said. He elaborated thus: 'I pondered over the issue the whole night yesterday. Finally, I have decided to quit as per my conscience'.

Following Patil's resignation, Deshmukh, who has been Chief Minister for over four years, said he too had offered to resign at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee on Saturday.

'I offered to resign at the CWC meeting (on Saturday) if any responsibility lies on the Chief Minister. Whatever decision the high command and my leader takes, I will abide by it', Des," he told a news conference in Mumbai on Monday afternoon.

He added: 'High Command will decide' (on his resignation).

What is holding him back in the saddle is the difficulty in selecting his successor, who should be acceptable to the coalition partner, National Congress Party of Sharad Pawar.

Party high command's preferred choice Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in PMO, but he is not acceptable to Pawar. As a result, Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has come into reckoning to head Congress-NCP coalition government in Maharashtra.

Sonia Gandhi met home minister P Chidambaram, defence minister and in-charge of party affairs in Maharashtra A. K Antony and senior party leader Ahmed Patel.

Said Antony after the meeting: 'A coalition government is there (in Maharashtra) and we have to consult the allies. Consultations are on. At this point I cannot say anything'.

-Asian Tribune -

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