Bhubaneswar: Nine-time Congress MP and former Odisha Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang today quit the party alleging humiliation and also appeared to send signals that he was keen on joining BJP.
Announcing his decision at a press conference, he came out with an explanation that his vote did not lead to the fall of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government in 1999.
"I have sent my resignation letter to AICC president Sonia Gandhi. Since the time of Vajpayee government's fall due to one vote in 1999, I have been humiliated. Though I voted against Vajpayee government in wake of a whip, the party did not come to my rescue at any time," Gamang told reporters.
In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Gamang said, "With a heavy heart and deep agony, I tender my resignation from the primary membership of Congress. Please accept my resignation."
Gamang, who was elected from Odisha's Koraput Lok Sabha segment eight times in a row from the 5th Lok Sabha in 1972, said he was again elected to the lower house of Parliament from the same seat in 2004 for the ninth time.
The Congress veteran had also been a Union Minister under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi for one year and five years each under Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasihma Rao.
However, the tribal leader sought to give an explanation almost 17 years after his controversial vote during a confidence motion in Lok Sabha and claimed that it was not his but the then National Conference member Saifuddin Soz's cross voting that sealed Vajpayee Government's fate.
"It was not my vote which turned the tables against Vajpayee government but cross-voting of Prof Saifuddin Soz. Vajpayee government lost the confidence motion by one vote for the cross voting of Prof Soz as he had gone against the whip of his party and voted against the motion," Gamang said.
However, the 1999 no-confidence motion against the then Vajpayee government became a turning point in his political life, Gamang said.
Stating that he has not decided whether to join any other political party, Gamang said, "There is no question of returning to Congress again after resigning from it." Asked whether he will join any political party, he called himself a "liability".
"Why will any political party take me? I have been accused of defeating the Vajpayee government. Therefore, BJP may not accept me. There is no question of joining any regional party (BJD)," he said.
Gamang said he was being seen as the "bad" element due to a misconception that his vote ensured the defeat of
His resignation from Congress coupled with his explanation about April 17, 1999 trust vote in Lok Sabha assumed significance as the move came barely a month after the veteran leader had a meeting with BJP leader and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram in Delhi.