The Congress leadership has taken strong exception to law minister Salman Khurshid’s remark in Azamgarh on Thursday that party chief Sonia Gandhi had cried on seeing photos of the Batla House encounter.
Khurshid sought to clarify his statement on Friday, but the Congress was upset with him for “unnecessary dragging” Gandhi into the controversy.
A section in the party said Gandhi had from time to time spelt out her views on contentious issues and there was no ambiguity in her stand on the Batla encounter.
The Congress was disturbed that the encounter issue had been raked in the midst of the Uttar Pradesh elections and had the potential of “prompting negative reactions” against the party.
Officially, the Congress has supported the government’s stand on the issue. The government has maintained the encounter was “absolutely genuine” and rejected demands for a judicial inquiry.
Khurshid’s comments on the encounter came on the day the Election Commission censured him for violating the model code of conduct by announcing a 9% sub-quota for Muslims.
The minister’s party colleagues were finding it hard to defend him. Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who has often questioned the authenticity of the Batla House encounter, said: “Soniaji never cried. These are his personal views and his own interpretation.”; Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary was evasive. “We have nothing to say after his clarification,” she said.; But Chowdhary’s mocking of the Batla House incident by wiping imaginary tears at the press briefing also caused embarrassment to the party.
Congress leader Parvez Hashmi said, “At least I didn't see her cry. If Mr Khurshid did, he can tell when and where.”; In his clarification, Khurshid said: “I didn't say she cried, I said she became emotional. She said the matter should be probed.”