Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s resignation is a welcome step. When things go wrong, someone has to assume responsibility. In a democratic set-up like ours, constructive responsibility lies with the Minister, as Justice M. C. Chagla pointed out when he inquired into the Mundhra scandal decades ago.
Several instances of intelligence failure have surfaced in the recent past. Against this background, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main Opposition party, has been demanding Patil’s resignation for some time. However, until now, the United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi was reportedly unwilling to let him go. It is good that she has changed her mind. Personal loyalty is not a relevant consideration in taking decisions on matters of this kind.
The BJP, which is already in election mode nationally, has said Patil’s resignation has come too late. It is a valid criticism. However, Patil can draw comfort from the fact that the terrorists, who had held a large number of hostages at different points, did not make any demands on the government and create a situation where he, like former BJP minister Jashwant Singh, had to personally escort jailed terrorists to freedom in a neighbouring country.