Maken resigns, to devote time to party work

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AjayNew Delhi, June 16;Union Minister for Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation, Ajay Maken, resigned from the cabinet on Saturday night to devote himself to party work, government sources confirmed. With a ministerial and party reshuffle imminent, and less than a year left to go for the general election, this could be the first of a series of resignations aimed at strengthening the party.

Mr. Maken, it is learnt, had a long session with party vice president Rahul Gandhi earlier in the week, when the possibility of his stepping down to work for the party was discussed. On Saturday evening, he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Sources in the Congress said Mr. Maken might be inducted into the party as a general secretary or he could replace J.P. Aggarwal as chief of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee. With Delhi being one of the key States going to the polls later this year, a senior party functionary said, the Congress could not afford to have a State chief working at cross purposes with Sheila Dikshit, who has been Chief Minister for 15 years.

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