Congress High Command today moved into cut any further loss of face by removing Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra Chief Minister and Suresh Kalmadi as secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the wake of embarrassing scams allegedly involving them.
Hours before the start of what is expected to be a stormy session of Parliament, Congress General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi announced that Chavan has been asked by party chief Sonia Gandhi to step down.
"Pending enquiry, his (Chavan's) offer of resignation has been accepted. He has been asked to tender his resignation to Governor (K Sankaranarayanan)," he said in a brief statement.
Dwivedi also announced that the resignation of Kalmadi, who is in the eye of a storm following allegations of corruption in the Commonwealth Games, as Secretary of the Congress Parliamentary Party has been accepted with immediate effect.
Earlier, Kalmadi, who was blamed for the messy preparations for the October Games, was asked to resign. He is a Lok Sabha member from Pune.
A decision on Chavan's resignation in the wake of embarrassing revelations that three of his relatives owned flats in the Adrash Housing Society was pending for the last 10 days in view of the high-profile visit of US President Barack Obama to Mumbai.
The party did not want any political disturbance in the state during his visit.
51-year-old Chavan had on October 30 offered to resign during a meeting with Gandhi after it emerged that his mother-in-law and two other relatives owned flats in the housing society, which was orginally meant for Kargil war heroes and widows.
Gandhi decided to remove Chavan even before Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony could submit a report on the housing scam.
Mukherjee and Antony will be in Mumbai today to attend the Congress Legislature Party meeting as central observers.
Shortly after Dwivedi's announcements, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the government was willing to discuss all issues with the opposition parties and hoped that the Winter Session of Parliament will be peaceful and productive.
"Greetings to you all. We are looking forward to the session and we hope that this session will be peaceful and productive," he told reporters in Parliament House.