Disappointed over denial of Congress tickets to his children, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh on Saturday put the party in a spot, saying Varun Gandhi’s detention under the National Security Act (NSA) was “unfortunate”.
He is the first Congress leader to criticise the Mayawati government on the issue. The Congress has refrained from taking sides on this issue, saying it was a decision of the state government and not the Centre.
“Both Varun's speech and his detention under NSA are unfortunate,” Arjun said.
The Congress reacted promptly, insisting he had “merely” expressed his “personal opinion”. “What is the need to comment on his personal opinion,” said Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal.
Arjun also made apparent his displeasure over denial of tickets to his children. “As a father, I am sad and can't deny I am disappointed that my children didn’t get tickets,” he said, adding the allocation of tickets was the prerogative of the party leadership.
While son Ajay Singh, an MLA, was keen to contest from Sidhi, the HRD minister reportedly wanted a ticket for daughter, Veena Singh, from Satna. But the Congress leadership fielded former state minister Indrajit Patel from Sidhi and Sudhir Singh Tomar from Satna.
The Congress sought to downplay Arjun’s disappointment. “He has said being a father he is disappointed; what’s wrong in that? If my son doesn’t get the ticket, I too will be disappointed. But he didn’t say he is angry with anybody,” said Sibal.