The Congress on Saturday night refused to commit whether the party would fix the responsibility on anyone for “lapses” that led to terror attacks in Mumbai, as demands for resignations of union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh grew within the party.
“Only time will tell,” was the curt reply of party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi in response to a question on whether the responsibility would be fixed, after a two and a half hour meeting of the top Congress leadership.
Asked if Patil offered to resign at the meeting, Dwivedi quipped "I have not heard the question".
The entire top brass, including party president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, attended the Congress Working Committee meeting that continued past 11 pm. Deshmukh was summoned to Delhi to attend the meeting, which also was attended by several union ministers who are not CWC members.
Several leaders are learnt to have raised the issue of repeated terror attacks affecting the party’s image at a crucial time, when assembly elections are being held in six states and general elections not far away.
The attack on Home Minister Shivraj Patil continued in the CWC meeting held two days after the cabinet meeting, where also he was under fire on Thursday.
“The pressure on party leadership is mounting to act fast and take some strong steps,” a leader in the know of things said.
The CWC meeting preceded the all-party meeting convened by the Prime Minister on Sunday.
Setting the tone for Sunday’s meeting, the resolution adopted at the CWC meet said:“The Congress will never bow before or negotiate with terrorists. The party urges the government to take immediate and concrete action to revamp our security set-up”.
Indicating a hardline on terrorism, the ruling party said it stood for “zero tolerance” against terrorism.
The CWC meeting came in the backdrop of Mumbai terror attacks, and at a time when the Opposition was accusing the Congress-led coalition at the Centre for not being serious about tackling terror.