New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath resigned "on his own volition" as party in-charge of Punjab, anguished over the "mischievous" campaign against him by opponents regarding the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the party said today.
Talking to media, Party's senior spokesman Anand Sharma dismissed suggestions that the Congress buckled under pressure to replace him and insisted that the "dishonest, perverse, and mischievous" narrative by opposition against him was done with an eye on elections.
Replying to questions, he, however, made it clear that Kamal Nath continues to be the Congress General Secretary and Haryana in-charge. On Sunday, he was appointed to the post and given charge of both Punjab and Haryana. Punjab goes to polls next year.
Reports earlier quoting party's chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala had it that Mr Nath had resigned as General Secretary of the All Indian Congress Committee.
Asked about the AAP's charges against Mr Nath, Mr Sharma said the AAP has "no credibility and has an opportunistic agenda" and was targeting the Congress leader with an eye on polls...
"The demand to reopen cases is ridiculous because there is no case ever. You cannot reopen which does not exist", he said when asked about the AAP demand.
Claiming that Kamal Nath is the senior-most member of the Lok Sabha, who has also been party General Secretary and Union Minister, Mr Sharma said that he decided to quit "out of his anguish" after being "condemned day in and day out despite being not guilty".
Noting that Kamal Nath's resignation letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi is "very clear", he said that the Congress leader has "never been accused of anything and even 32 years after the incident there has never been a case against him."
"He resigned on his own volition. He requested that this situation has been created to deflect attention from the real issues of corruption, misgovernance, drug mafia, syndicate and lawlessness and we have to respect his sentiment", Sharma said.
"For us, this is a non-issue...Congress rejects with contempt that it has buckled under pressure. This has been done for narrow political gains with an eye on elections. Congress has not buckled under pressure"
Targeting the detractors of Congress, he said "You cannot just assault the reputation of any person. In our law, Supreme Court says right to reputation is equal with right to life and you cannot recklessly and irresponsible manner hurl accusations at somebody."
"It was a dishonest, mischievous and perverse narrative being built against Nath".
The former Union Minister had said in the letter to Gandhi that he was "hurt by the developments of the past few days wherein an unnecessary controversy has been created around the tragic 1984 riots in New Delhi."
His action came as Akali Dal, BJP and AAP had kept up attack on him and the Congress over his alleged role in the anti-Sikh riots which followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi.