In a setback to the Congress, party MP Jagdambika Pal, 63, resigned from Lok Sabha membership and party’s primary membership Friday, blaming the “new generation of power” in the party and “lack of access to the leadership”.
Pal’s resignation comes days after he publicly said he felt “humiliated” by the party and accused the Congress leadership of not giving him due importance. “I met Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Saturday and tendered my resignation,” Pal said. In more trouble to the Congress high command, Pal also indicated there are other MPs from UP who are not satisfied with the emerging leadership in the party, which, according to him, “does not value old lieutenants of the party”.
“A new generation of power and pelf-seekers are now dominating the affairs of the party with the result that people like us, who are the grassroots workers, have no access to the leadership” Pal has written in his resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday.
“There is a serious lack of communication and virtual absence of respect for old timers like me in the party. I find myself totally out of sync with this new dispensation,” he wrote. He also went on to say how he had supported Indira Gandhi in “difficult times”. “During the times of Indira Gandhi, your illustrious mother-in-law, I have faced lathis and all sort of hardships but never ever flinched in my loyalty,” wrote Pal.
Hinting at Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, Pal said there were certain “tenants” who were made “house-owners”. Pal mentioned there are other leaders in the party who feel like him. “I am not the only one, there are other leaders , who feel in a similar manner and are hurt with the lack of communication.”
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Though he has not taken any name, his statement is significant in the light of doubts being raised within the party about repeating candidature of two other sitting MPs in Eastern Uttar Pradesh — Harsha Vardhan from Maharajganj and Vinay Kumar Pandey from Shravasti.
Pal said he would contest the Lok Sabha elections from Domariyaganj and is in talks with more than one political party.
There is speculation about him joining the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose government he had saved in 1997 by defecting from Congress along with 21 other leaders to form Loktantrik Congress party. After BSP had withdrawn support from Kalyan Singh-led government in UP in 1997, it was the Loktantrik Congress, led by Pal and Naresh Agarwal, which had extended support.
According to sources, he may not have many supporters in the BJP as in 1998, he, as a Loktantrik Congress leader had parted ways with the Kalyan Singh government, alleging “communalism.”
The Kalyan Singh government was dismissed by then Governor Romesh Bhandari, who had invited Pal to form government. Following this, Pal went on to become UP Chief Minister for three days on February 21, 1998. The Governor order was later stayed by the high court.
It was perhaps for this reason, when asked whether he believes in secularism or communalism, Pal said in Lucknow: “Whichever party I would join would automatically become secular. Party does not have an ideology, it is the ideology of the individual that matters,”
He added: People say I am leaving Congress because it is going out of power but in UP, Congress is out of power since 1989. However, during the assembly elections in 1993, 1996 and then 2002, I contested as party candidate and also won from Basti assembly seat. I contested the Lok Sabha election in 2004 and then again in 2009 as party candidate.”
Pal said he would go to his constituency, Domariyaganj, and start meeting people in every assembly segment to seek their opinion about his decision and future line of action. WITH ENS, NEW DELHI
‘Pal is driven by selfish motives’
UPCC media chairman Satyadev Tripathi, in an official statement Friday, stated: “Jagdambika Pal has a history of making such decisions. He had left Congress and formed Loktantrik Congress and went on to become minister in the BJP-led government in UP. Later, he again returned to Congress. He was made state president of UP Congress but for his selfish motives he has decided to part ways again.”