The controversy over 65 Members of Parliament signing a letter urging US President Barack Obama not to issue a visa to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi took a new turn on Wednesday.
Nine MPs denied signing any such letter, prompting the BJP to demand an inquiry into what it called “dirty tricks” of the Congress against Modi.
The MPs who denied signing the anti-Modi letter include five Congress leaders, CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury, DMK’s KP Ramalingam and CPI MP’s Achutan, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MPs Vandana Chavan and Sanjeev Naik.
While Congress MPs Marotrao Kowase, Anil Lad and Jayantrao Avale denied signing the letter, their party colleagues Pradip Bhattacharya and Joy Abraham said they did not remember whether they signed such a plea.
The government’s stand was that it was not right for anyone to involve a third country in domestic issues while the Congress said it was a “non-issue.”
Preneet Kaur, minister of state for external affairs, said, “It’s not right for anyone to ask like this. It's for the US to decide. We should solve our issues at home." Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said, "We have nothing to do with it. It is up to the US govt to issue visa to Modi."
AICC spokesperson Raj Babbar said, "The nation is bigger than politics...We do not know what individuals are doing. The issue has not been discussed in any fora of the party nor that of Parliament. It is a non-issue (for us)."
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar, however, said, "Many of the signatories have denied they having been signed this memorandum. This shows that it was a conspiracy. It is a Congress’ dirty trick department which is at work now."
Sudarshan Bhagat, BJP MP from Lohardaga, wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker, calling for a probe into the “mysterious” letter. "These are serious charges and amount to forgery. I have demanded that the Speaker should order an impartial inquiry and action should be taken against those responsible," he said.
Yechury said in a statement that "I don't remember having signed any such letter... It is neither in my character nor in the principles of my party- the CPI(M)- to petition any sovereign country on matters that fall strictly within the sovereign domain of that country."
Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in a library inside his residence at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. (Reuters file photo)
But independent MP Mohammed Adeeb, who took the initiative for the letter, said, "I am ready for an inquiry by any authority, be it by Parliament or police. I am ready to quit public life if proved wrong. Yechury’s signature was obtained by Azeez Pasha (former MP). It’s unfortunate Yechury has denied it.”
I don't believe that a person like Yechury can say like this. I have his signature. His name is on number 9. How can I paste it? I am a MP and I cannot do such a thing. If he thinks I have cheated him, I will take him to court."
Adeeb said he took the initiative for this campaign due to the latest campaign in support of Modi and initiative being taken by BJP President Rajnath Singh for getting a US visa for Modi.
Yechury pointed out that the letter was typed on the letterhead of a MP carrying, “ the insignia of our national symbol, the Ashok Chakra. The heading under which some signatures are appended says, 'names and signatures of Indian MPs'. Strange, which other country's MPs would sign on the letterhead of the Indian Parliament? This itself suggests some efforts at cut and paste."
Minister of state for agriculture NCP leader Tariq Anwar said, “the cases are still pending against Modi and any revoking of the ban on him at this juncture would be seen as a dismissal of the issues concerning his role in the 2002 riots.”
Copy of the letter sent by MPs to US President Obama: