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Don't speak out of turn, says Sonia

The Congress president is unhappy over her party leaders airing their views in public, reports Saroj Nagi.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2007 12:27 IST
Saroj Nagi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is said to be unhappy at the manner in which her party leaders are publicly taking pot shots at each other on the Ram Setu issue and has asked them not to speak out of turn.

Sonia conveyed her displeasure through the AICC’s regular press briefing at the manner in which her senior leaders were airing their views in public over the filing of the controversial affidavit (now withdrawn) that there is no evidence of the existence of Lord Ram or of Ram Setu being a man made structure. “The less different people speak on the issue the better it is, as the issue of the affidavit stood settled following its rectification,” said spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.

In a signal that his statement was at the high command’s behest, Singhvi — when asked whether Sonia had directed her leaders not to talk publicly on the issue — said: “this is the party’s bhavna (sentiment).”

Sources say Sonia is particularly unhappy that party leaders, who should be targeting the BJP and the NDA, are keeping alive the controversy when it should have been capped.

In the last two days, first Minister of State Jairam Ramesh and then veteran Congressman RK Dhawan called for Cultural Minister Ambika Soni’s resignation on moral grounds over the affidavit fiasco while senior leader Digivijay Singh and former Minister Salman Khurshid said there was no need for the minister to quit.

But the party is unlikely to act against those who went public with the issue or seek Soni’s resignation for the controversial affidavit — certain portions of which she had wanted deleted before it was filed in court. “No view and no decision has been taken on it,” said Singhvi to a pointed query whether Soni would have to quit. Other leaders maintain that the issue of resignation was between Sonia and Soni.

The Congress sought to put a lid on the controversy by choosing to play down the comments of those who have already spoken their mind on it. “It was an expression of their personal views… The Congress is a large and democratic party, which reflects varied shades of opinion,” said Singhvi.

On her part, Soni maintained a stoic silence and refused to get dragged further into the controversy by reacting to demands for her resignation on moral grounds. She is now likely to apprise Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the sequence of events — much as she had done when she called on Sonia on Saturday — as well as to inform him of the objections she has raised to certain paragraphs of the affidavit that was filed and withdrawn when she was abroad.

Meanwhile, unfazed by the controversy over the Sethusamudram project, government would soon approach the Supreme Court to obtain "appropriate orders” so that work in Adam’s Bridge continues, Shipping Minister TR Baalu said on Monday night.

With PTI inputs