The Congress had performed poorly in the three states in the Lok Sabha polls and has faced demands for change in leadership in Haryana and Maharashtra. In Jammu and Kashmir, it has decided to contest elections on its own by snapping ties with the National Conference. Rane July 21 resigned as Maharashtra's industry minister, the second time he resigned in the past two months. He had announced his desire to step down last week and submitted his resignation to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
"I have resigned as minister but I shall continue to remain in the Congress," Rane said, scotching speculation that he might join some other party or float his own outfit. The state Congress received another shock July 19 when seven of its Thane municipal corporators -- all staunch Rane supporters -- joined the Shiv Sena.
Rane had earlier quit as minister in May after his son and outgoing MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Nitesh Rane lost to the Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha polls after a revolt by a section of the Nationalist Congress Party there. At that time, his resignation was rejected. Rane, who was chief minister for nearly a year at the fag end of the Shiv Sena-BJP regime of 1995-99, quit the Shiv Sena to join the Congress in 2005, but never hid his ambition to become chief minister again and made several attempts to bag the post. In Assam, Sarma resigned as minister, saying it was not possible "mentally, physically and politically" to work under Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Sarma, who was holding health and education portfolios, submitted his resignation to Governor Janaki Ballabh Patnaik and declared he would continue to oppose the Gogoi government's anti-people policies within and outside the legislature. "We are going to play the role of a constructive opposition in the assembly," said Sarma, who is believed to be leading a group of dissident Congress legislators.
He, however, added that he would obey the party whip. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the two leaders had resigned due to their personal ambitions, saying Rane has been exhibiting this tendency and similar statements had come from Sarma. "If it (the resignation) is on the basis of personal ambition, there is no alternative. Congress cannot say much," he said, noting the issue could not have been accommodated by the party leadership in the way the two leaders desired. (IANS)