The Antulay episode may figure at Saturday’s meeting of the Congress’ Core Committee that includes the PM and Sonia Gandhi. Since External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had assured Lok Sabha the government would make a statement regarding Antulay’s remarks before the session ends on December 23; many expect a decision to be taken after that meeting.
But the Congress has distanced itself from Antulay’s remarks and left the issue to the PM to handle. “It is between the minister and the PM,” said a leader who did not want to be named.
“The party in no manner endorses what Antulay said,’’ remarked spokesman Manish Tewari in an allusion to the minister’s remarks that the death on 26/11 of Hemant Karkare — who was investigating the Malegaon blast — was because of “terrorism plus something”. On whether any action was to be taken against the minister, he maintained it was for the government to respond.
Congress leaders alleged the BJP was blowing the issue out of proportion to deflect attention from the manner in which it lashed out at the ATS chief when he was alive. Even as the BJP once again raised the issue in Parliament and issued a statement demanding that the government sack the minister, several Muslim MPs — privately — said that if any action was taken against Antulay, they too would quit the House.