New Delhi, Jul 12: Apparently unhappy over not being elevated to Cabinet, Minister of State Gurudas Kamat today resigned from the government saying he wants to work for the party.
57-year-old Kamat, a five-time MP from Mumbai, who was elevated as Minister of State with Independent Charge this morning, has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he wants to be relieved of his ministerial responsibility.
“This is to clarify that early this morning, I personally wrote to Hon'ble Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Hon'ble Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to relieve me from my ministerial responsibility, expressing a desire to work in the party as an active party worker,” he said in a press release issued in the evening from Mumbai.
Kamat, who was Minister of State for Home and Communication and IT, was made MoS with Independent Charge of newly-created portfolio of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
However, he was not said to be happy over the elevation and was keen on a Cabinet berth.
He immediately left for Mumbai and did not not attend the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan where the new ministers and those elevated to the Cabinet were sworn in.
In the press release, Kamat, however, said “there is no no question of any disappointment over the portfolio which in itself is an important one with concerns relating to requirements of the large sections of the people of the country.
“The reasons are totally personal and not any defiance of the party leadership as is being made out in certain sections of the media.”
Kamat said he has the highest respect and regard for Gandhi and the Prime Minister and would continue to be a committed Congress worker.
“I have thanked both of them for the opportunity given to serve in the Union ministry in the last two years,” he said in the release in which he also congratulated all those who have been elevated or inducted into the ministry.
Congress sources said that should have utilised the opportunity given to him and showed his mettle in the new portfolio.
A visibly unhappy Minister of State Srikanth Jena, who was hoping for elevation to Cabinet rank, today suggested that coalition compulsion had blocked his promotion but made it clear that he will not quit.
He said he would take up the matter with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and highlight his seniority in politics and “views of people of Odisha” on lack of representation in the Cabinet.
“It is Prime Minister's prerogative as to whom to make minister and what assignment to give,” Jena told reporters here after the announcement of reshuffle in which he retained the portfolio and was additionally given Minister of State with independent charge of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
“In this kind of coalition, there are compulsions...I have no choice...I will perform whatever responsibility given to me by the Prime Minister,” said Jena who had sulked after being made Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers in 2009.
Contending that it was a demotion for him as he had served as Cabinet Minister in the United Front Government in 1996, he had reluctantly assumed office as MoS. Sources close to Jena today said that he was not happy as he had hoped for elevation to Cabinet rank.
Jena said that he would talk to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi again about his seniority in politics and views of people of Orissa on the lesser representation to the state.
“I have been telling them about this and will again draw their attention on this,” he said.
Asked whether he had any chance in the future of being elevated to Cabinet, he said, “In politics, no doors are closed.”
To a question whether he would quit, he shot back, “why should I quit. The question does not arise...Why should I sulk?”
Jena, whose political career spanned over three decades, weathered the pro-BJD wave in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls to win the Balasore Lok Sabha constituency and was among the six Congress leaders from the state to be elected to Parliament.
Asked whether justice was done to Odisha people, he said, “You ask Oriya people. I can be a bowler as well a batsman for the state.”
A graduate from Utkal University, Jena has held several important positions and as a member in the Committee on Public Accounts, Committee on Public Undertakings, Library Committee and Committee on Environment.
A three-time MLA and fourth-term MP, Jena participated in various movements connected with the cause of students, teachers, farmers and youths. He was imprisoned for 19 months during Emergency. PTI