India’s home minister resigned Sunday — the first political casualty after the unprecedented terror attack on the country’s commercial capital.
New Delhi, India (RushPRnews)11/30/08-The political fallout from the Mumbai terror attack is beginning to take its toll on the administration of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. As Mr. Singh convened an all-party meeting to discuss security, his home minister submitted his resignation. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.
Even before Mumbai was attacked, Home minister Shivraj Patil had been a target of opposition parties for his allegedly poor performance as the cabinet member tasked with domestic security. He is to be replaced by the respected finance minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to takeover the finance portfolio.
A senior leader of the opposition BJP party, Arun Jaitley, says the resignation of the home minister will not be enough to address the government’s security failures.
“This government has no moral right to survive now,” Jaitley said. “It is this weak policy of this government where the entire intelligence network had collapsed, the security responses were poor, the legal framework dealing with terrorism is non-existent. I think the prime minister must address the right questions, he’ll find the right answers.”
Some of India’s major media outlets are blasting the political establishment. The Times of India published a front page comment in its Sunday edition titled “Our politicians fiddle as innocents die.” A Hindustan Times columnist blasted what he called incompetent politicians for using “terrorism as an excuse to win votes.”
Television news channels criticized politicians for showing up at the scene of the terror attacks to make public comments while commandos were still battling the gunmen.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress Party, which heads the governing coalition, defends the administration, saying it is taking matters seriously.
“It’s a very serious issue for the nation that is being grappled with at the highest levels,” Singhvi said.
The political fallout began as Prime Minister Singh convened an all-party meeting Sunday afternoon to discuss security and attempt to avoid the Mumbai terror attacks leading to political upheaval and possibly sparking communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.
Islamic terrorists are blamed for the nearly 60-hour siege of Mumbai which left about 175 people dead, including 18 foreigners, at ten locations.