The fate of Jagdish Tytler, Congress candidate from the North-East Delhi constituency, continued to hang in balance through on Wednesday. Various Sikh organisations blocked rail traffic in several places in Punjab to protest against Tytler’s candidature and the CBI’s clean chit to him in the 1984 riots.
But the Congress adopted a wait and watch policy till party chief Sonia Gandhi’s return to Delhi on Wednesday night to take a final call on Tytler.
Gandhi will take into account the political cost in Punjab of backing Tytler and the fact that the party expects Tytler and Sajjan Kumar — the two candidates in the firing line for their alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots — to win their seats.
“Every seat will count,” said a Congress leader, who did not wish to be identified. “And we are talking about two here.” Another leader said the Congress was examining the assessments received from its units in Punjab and Delhi.
In his defence, Tytler said the CBI had given him a clean chit in 1999 too. “It is a periodical tamasha orchestrated by the Akalis, the BJP and the media,” he told HT.
But the Congress recognises that things are more complicated. A leader agreed that Tuesday’s incident of a Sikh journalist hurling a shoe at home minister P. Chidambaram showed the anger within the Sikh community. “Both morality and winnability will be important in deciding their fate,” Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said, capturing the party’s dilemma.
In an interview to CNN-IBN, Chidambaram said the Sikh community had a “legitimate” grievance. But he said it was for the court to sit in judgment on the guilt of the accused.
On Thursday, a special court judge will consider the CBI’s closure report on Tytler’s involvement in the 1984 riots. It was not clear if the court would pronounce its verdict on the same day.
In Punjab, activists of various Sikh outfits blocked rail traffic at Gyaspura village near Ludhiana, Beas and Dakoya in Jalandhar. The Punjab Danga Peerit Welfare Society, a body of riot victims from Punjab, said it would “not allow” Sonia and her son Rahul Gandhi to hold any political rally in the state till they spiked the candidatures of Tytler and Kumar. It also announced the formation of ‘Gandhi bhagao’ squads to disrupt the rallies of any member of the Gandhi family.
(With HTC inputs from Ludhiana, Amritsar)