Decision to drop two ministers was joint, says Congress

New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) The Congress Sunday said that decision to drop Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar from the cabinet was “joint decision” of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi even as BJP sought his resignation over reports that he was nudged into taking the decision.

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said that it had appeared in a section of the media that it was at the insistence of Gandhi that the two ministers were dropped.

“This perception is not correct. The correct position is that it was the joint decision of the Congress president and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” he said.

Party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed also said that the decision to drop the two ministers was a “mutually agreed decision” of the prime minister and Congress president.

Reports had suggested that Bansal and Kumar, seen to be close to the prime minister, were asked to resign after a nudge from Gandhi to the prime minister.

Ahmed said it was wrong to say that the prime minister was reluctant to drop the two ministers after a decision had been taken.

Senior BJP leader L. K. Advani Sunday hit out at prime minister over reports that he was reluctant to drop the ministers and said that self-respect demands he should quit.

“Has the prime minister abdicated his right even to decide about his own cabinet? Today’s news reports about the removal of two union ministers generally emphasise that, it is Soniaji who has sacked ‘two PM’s men.’ Sheer self-respect demands that the PM calls it a day, and orders an early general election,” Advani wrote in his blog.

Bansal had resigned following the arrest of his nephew for allegedly accepting Rs.90 lakh for fixing a promotion in Railway Board. Kumar quit in the wake of controversy over his vetting the Central Board of Investigation (CBI) probe report in the coal block allocations.

The BJP is also demanding prime minister’s resignation over coal block allocation controversy.

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