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I never met Telgi: Fernandes
July 12, 2004 16:23 IST
Rejecting the charge that he had any links with the mastermind of the fake stamp paper scam Abdul Karim Telgi, former defence minister George Fernandes told the Lok Sabha on Monday that he had never met him in his life.
Making a personal clarification on the charge made against him by Rashtriya Janata Dal members in the House last week, Fernandes said, "There is no substance whatsoever in this accusation. Since the accusation is born out of the photographs taken at a public function in Dhule in Maharashtra (on July 3,1999), let me put the facts before you and the House."
He had known Anil Gote since the time he and Sharad Joshi had joined together and launched the Shetkari Sangathan (a farmers' organisation), which fought for the rights of the farmers through innumerable struggles, for which they were beaten and jailed on several occasions.
"When the Shetkari Sangathan collapsed, I lost touch with both of them," Fernandes, who is also the Janata Dal (United) president, said.
Gote, then an MLA, had invited him to a function in June 1999 on behalf of the organising committee set up to build a memorial for Param Vir Chakra recipient Abdul Hamid who laid down his life in the 1965 war against Pakistan.
He attended the June 1999 function in which the then Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane, the then deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani were present. After the function, he left for Delhi by an Indian Airlines flight at 8pm the same day.
"I had no clue about the people who were on the dais at the function except Mr and Mrs Gote. If a photograph shows Abdul Karim Telgi on the dais, a person whom I have never met in my life, to call this a link is, to say the least, unjust," Fernandes said.
Later, Gote had invited him along with the then railway minister Nitish Kumar and Jethmalani in October 2002 to unveil the statue of Pandurang Suryavanshi, a Kargil war martyr, and the statues of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Lord Buddha. The function was held on October 26, 2002.Immediately after Fernandes gave the clarification, Bharatiya Janata Party chief whip Vijay Kumar Malhotra demanded an apology from RJD members who had raised the issue last week flaunting copies of a newspaper, which had carried the report and the photograph.
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