Sonia sacrifice stumps Oppn

New Delhi, March 23 | Updated: Mar 24 2006, 05:30am hrs
In a surprise move that illustrated the enviable political instincts of Indias first political family, Sonia Gandhi on Thursday turned the offices of profits controversy to her advantage by resigning from membership of the Lok Sabha as well as chairpersonship of the National Advisory Council (NAC).

The late afternoon announcement, that saw the benchmark BSE Sensex slip 0.5% during the closing hours, sent the entire political establishment into a tizzy. It took the wind out of the opposition sails and brought much required relief to the UPA government that had been trying desperately to wriggle out of the situation by seeking to bring an ordinance legitimising holding of such offices of profits.

While market reaction is being put down to a knee-jerk reaction, corporate leaders were of the view that the long-term impact would be positive. Kishore Biyani, MD, Pantaloon Retail, India said, Ms Gandhi has set a good example for others to follow. Arun Kejriwal, director, KRIS, said, The political news, which unfolded at almost the dying minutes of todays market possibly acted as a trigger to bring about the inevitable correction.

The government is now contemplating on throwing the issue back to the political parties by holding an all party meet on the issue and bringing a Bill in Parliament to end the confusion over offices of profit.

In a statement at her 10 Janpath residence this afternoon, Ms Gandhi said, This has hurt me very much. I have stated it earlier also that I am in politics and public life not for my selfish ends. I have taken a pledge to serve the people of the country and to protect the secular ideals. So in keeping with my public life and political principles and according to my own belief, I resign as a Lok Sabha member and NAC chairperson .

Ms Gandhi, however, asserted she will contest the Lok Sabha elections from her constituency of Rae Bareilly.

Political observers felt that the move was a master stroke as it did not really change equations within the power structure either in the Congress or within the UPA. Ms Gandhi will continue to remain the Congress president as well as the chairperson of the UPA.