Mumbai, July 12: Apparently miffed at getting a relatively light-weight portfolio, newly-promoted Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Drinking Water & Sanitation Gurudas Kamat Tuesday evening decided to quit the central council of ministers.
Kamat, a senior Maharashtra Congress leader, skipped the swearing-in ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan Tuesday evening and left for an undisclosed location.
In a statement issued here after the swearing-in ceremony was over in New Delhi, Kamat said he has decided to quit the ministry for ‘totally personal’ reasons and wanted to work actively for the Congress party. Kamat was MoS home and was elevated to MoS Drinking Water & Sanitation with independent charge.
He said he had already written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking them to relieve him of his ministerial responsibilities and expressed a desire to work for the party.
Referring to speculation that he was upset over getting a light-weight portfolio, Kamat said: ‘There is no question of any disappointment over the portfolio, which is itself an important one, with concerns related to requirements of a large section of the people of the country.’
‘The reasons are totally personal and not a defiance of the party leadership as is being made out in certain sections of the media,’ Kamat asserted.
He clarified that early Tuesday morning he had personally written to both Gandhi and Singh requesting that he should be relieved of his ministerial responsibilities and expressed a desire to work for the party.
‘I have the highest respect and regard for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and will continue to be a committed Congress Worker,’ Kamat assured, dismissing speculation in state Congress circles that he would resort to rebellion.
Kamat also expressed his gratitude to Gandhi and Singh ‘for the opportunity given to serve in the Union Cabinet for the last two years,’ and congratulated all those (ministers) who have been elevated or newly inducted in the Cabinet.’
Considered a ‘giant-killer’ in Mumbai’s electoral politics, Kamat, in his four decades long career in politics has defeated some of the biggest names like Subramanian Swamy, the late Pramod Mahajan and Jaywantiben Mehta.
A soft-spoken lawyer, an avid badminton, table-tennis and cricket players, Kamat’s excellent organizational skills since his student day politics were noticed by the late Rajiv Gandhi who appointed him all-India president of the Youth Congress in 1987.
Committed to fighting communal forces, Kamat (57) was also a strong pillar for the party in Mumbai, which he headed and guided for many years, starting as an ordinary student activist, to city and state head of the student wings, then the youth wings, and then as a five-time MP representing Mumbai.
Projects stuck for long — like the Mumbai metro-rail and a mega-project to augment the city’s water supply for the next two decades — got central clearance through Kamat’s efforts as an MP.