For senior Union ministers have apparently written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi that they are willing to give up their cabinets posts to work for the party.
If the high command accepts the proposal, it would hark back to the Kamraj plan of the 1960s. No one from the Congress, however, could confirm if the ministers have decided to put party before government in view of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
K Kamraj, who was the party president in 1963, had mooted a plan under which six Union ministers and six chief ministers stepped down to work for the party and re-vitalise it. The most prominent were Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Morarji Desai and SK Patil.
Apart from Salman Khurshid, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vayalar Ravi and Jairam Ramesh, word started doing the rounds that Vilasrao Deshmukh, Union minister and former Maharashtra chief minister, too has expressed his desire to give up his post and return to state politics.
Both Khurshid and Ravi, however, denied before the media that they have offered to resign. But Khurshid’s comments like, “party comes before government” and “if asked by the party to quit the government, I would not hesitate to do so” provides ample room to believe that ministers prefer 10 Janpath (Sonia Gandhi’s residence) to 7 Race Course Road (Manmohan Singh’s residence).
Manish Tiwari, Congress spokesperson, maintained that he was not aware of any such communication between the ministers and the Congress president.
In the past, all four — Khurshid, Azad, Ravi and Ramesh — have proved their utility in organisational affairs. At present, Azad is a general secretary. Ravi was recently deputed to handle the explosive situation in Andhra Pradesh regarding Telengana.
Ramesh had proved his mettle when he quit the government before the 2009 Lok Sabha elections to operate from the party’s war room at 15 Gurudwara Rakabganj Road. He saw to it that the communication drive was a success.
Political experts feel the offer to quit and work for the party is a prelude to changes that the Congress is thinking of introducing, especially after it suffered a massive setback in the state assembly elections (in Uttar Pradesh, the party managed to secure only 28 seats despite having seven ministers from the state). General secretary Rahul Gandhi has already indicated that “heavyweights will have to pay a price”.
The Congress still has a few weeks to mull over all the options available. The changes, if any, will happen only after the budget session gets over on May 22. The UPA-II will complete three years in office on the same day.