The government on Sunday said Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde had not apologised for his controversial remarks but only expressed regret, which was accepted by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"Well, it is regret. That is the word that has been used. I cannot change the language once it is used," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said in an interview to CNN-IBN.
He was responding to questions on whether Shinde had expressed regret or tendered an apology for his remark made at a Congress meet in Jaipur -- that the BJP was running camps for training Hindu terrorists.
Nath said while Shinde had used the word BJP, he has clarified that he did not mean any political organisation.
“If it has inadvertently or advertently been construed to mean that, he said ‘I express regret’," Nath said.
He also sought to make a distinction between Shinde's remarks and similar comments made by P Chidambaram during his tenure as the home minister.
"The difference was Shinde used the word BJP and Mr Chidambaram had not used the word BJP," he said.
The minister admitted that Shinde's statement of regret was discussed at meetings he and Shinde had with the BJP leadership.
"There was a discussion and some text was worked out. Some text was discussed (with BJP). They said this was enough, they said he should say this. This was not a test -- like putting a comma and a full stop," Nath said while describing the meetings with the BJP leaders.
He said the matter was discussed with the BJP leaders to avoid complications later.
"We did not want a statement where they said this is not that. They want something and the only way to cut it short was to discuss it and sort it out," Nath said.
Nath said Shinde did not deny the remarks he had made at the Jaipur meeting and had only clarified that he did not mean it.
The home minister always had the intention of clarifying his remarks and a time was chosen to issue a statement, he said.
"So what it took 30 days? It happened. What heavens have fallen if it has taken 30 days? The matter is over on this subject and Parliament is functioning without this being an issue," Nath said.
On Congress spokesman P C Chacko's remark that Shinde was not factually incorrect, he said it was his colleague's "own opinion".
Nath maintained that the episode had not diminished Shinde's standing in the Union Cabinet.
"Certainly not. Why should it? These things happen to all of us," he said.
The parliamentary affairs minister shot down the Left parties’ demand for removal of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien in connection with the Suryanelli rape case in which he has already been exonerated by the apex court.
"I am not going to accept it. If you want to boycott, it is your House. It is not my House," said Nath.
He also dismissed suggestions that Kurien should recuse himself from presiding over the House when it considers a Bill to strengthen anti-rape laws.
"If he is in the chair, he will preside. Why not? This is not an issue of ethics and propriety," he said.
Nath said he has offered to hold any kind of probe into allegations of kickbacks in the acquisition of helicopters for VVIPs and added that the matter would be discussed in Parliament.
On stronger anti-rape laws, he said every political party was attaching highest importance to this issue and did not want the matter to be referred to a Standing Committee.
"I think all political parties should arrive at a consensus that this should not go to any committee. We should pass this Bill as soon as possible," Nath said.