Home Minister Shivraj Patil, under tremendous criticism over a spate of terrorist attacks in the country since last year, resigned today in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes.
Patil, who had offered to step down at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting last night, sent his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this morning, sources said.
The 74-year-old Patil was inducted into the Union Cabinet despite his defeat from Latur in Maharashtra in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls and has been a target of the opposition as also the detractors within the party over his handling of the internal security situation in the country.
Patil had told the CWC meeting that as the Home minister he "takes the responsibility and whatever the CWC decides, I am ready to do", the sources said.
Patil's remarks came in the wake of criticism by several leaders, including Union Ministers P Chidambaram, Kamal Nath, Kapil Sibal and H R Bhardwaj, they said.
The refrain of these leaders at the meeting was that a strong action is needed in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes and accountability has to be ensured at the higher as well as lower levels.
Patil, who has been in public life for over four decades, was brought into the Manmohan Singh Cabinet as he was considered a complete Gandhi loyalist and Sonia Gandhi had turned down repeated demands for his ouster from the government.
Patil was also one of the serious candidates of the Congress for the post of the President last year after the tenure of APJ Abdul Kalam got over. But, the Left parties, which were supporting the government from outside, had put their foot down on such a proposal.
Patil was criticised for his statements whenever terrorist strikes took place and he especially came under media scrutiny for his sartorial fetish on the day serial bomb blasts hit Delhi in September this year.
Born at Chakur in Latur district on October 12, 1935, Patil was educated at Osmania University and Bombay University. After graduating in Science, he completed LLM and practised Law.
Patil had risen to the post of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha when the P V Narasimha Rao government was in power between 1991 and 1996.
He was first elected to the Latur Municipality as its President in 1967. He became a Member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1972 and presided over the House as its Speaker from 1978 to 1979.
Patil was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1980 and was appointed Union Minister of State for Defence in the Indira Gandhi government the same year.
During his political career, he held a number of portfolios including those of Commerce, Science and Technology, Atomic Energy and Tourism and Civil Aviation.
A voracious reader, Patil has also written a book titled 'Reminiscences and Reflections'.
A clear hint that the Home Minister would be in trouble was given by AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi last night.
"Only time will tell," he had remarked after the three- hour long CWC meeting, when asked whether demands for fixing responsibility on the Home Minister were raised at the parley.
Dwivedi had also side stepped another question whether Patil had offered to quit at the CWC meeting. "I have not heard your question," he had told the reporters.
The Home Minister has also been under attack from several opposition parties including the BJP from time to time.
National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has also come under attack in the wake of the terror strikes and the refrain of the AICC for the past two days has been that accountability will be fixed.
The demands for strong action also meant that it was time government set its house in order with some members saying the anger among the people over the attacks could be addressed only if urgent and concrete steps are taken.
The issue of intelligence failure also came up during the meeting and party sources said that the NSA "could also face trouble."