EC-Khurshid row: Cong wants leaders to speak as per law
Apparently disapproving Law Minister Salman Khurshid's controversial remarks regarding Election Commission censuring him on minorities' sub-quota issue, Congress on Sunday said the party always wants its leaders to speak as per the norms of public life and law of the land.
"The Election Commission is a constitutional body. Congress always wants that all Congressmen should speak as per the norms of public life and the law of the land," AICC General Secretary and media department Chairman Janardan Dwivedi told PTI.
This is the first official reaction of the Congress party on the controversy.
Dwivedi's reply came in response to a question on the controversy surrounding Khurshid's statement at Farrukhabad on Saturday that prompted the commission to write a strong letter to President Pratibha Patil seeking her "immediate and decisive" intervention.
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Image: Union Minister Salman Khurshid
'Request President to dismiss Khurshid as cabinet minister'
Acting swiftly on the EC complaint, Patil on Saturday night sent the missive to the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for "appropriate action".
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj demanded dismissal of Khurshid as the law minister for acting against the Constitution.
"We request the President to withdraw her pleasure and dismiss Salman Khurshid as a minister of the Union Cabinet for acting against the law and the Constitution," she tweeted.
While defending Khurshid, Congress leader Digvijay Singh said every political party has the right to talk about their programmes during election campaigns and it was not correct to press charges like these against political leaders.
"With great humility, I would like to ask the EC that if political outfits are not allowed to speak about their agenda, then the party manifesto should also be stopped," he said.
Image: Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj
'Will prime minister take action or maintain his convention of inaction?'
The EC action came after Khurshid had told a rally that he will continue to ensure reservation for backward Muslims even if the Commission "hangs" him.
EC had earlier censured him for his statement promising nine per cent sub-quota for backward Muslims during campaigning in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad felt that an "unprecedented constitutional crisis-like situation has emerged" as the question is not about elections but that of the credibility of constitutional bodies like the EC which has a special status.
"Will the honourable prime minister at least take action or maintain his convention of inaction? Will Shrimati Sonia Gandhi speak something or maintain her conspicuous silence...Otherwise the nation will presume that all of them have same sentiments about what Khurshid (stated)...," he told NDTV.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said if the government does not remove Khurshid, then "we will consider that this (Khurshid's remarks) is a collective statement of the Congress."
Supporting the EC's move against the Law Minister, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said the commission has the complete right to implement code of conduct in case of any violation.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
'Prime minister should ban Khurshid from UP'
Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav maintained that the law minister has a "politically-driven agenda" and demanded that the prime minister should "ban" him in Uttar Pradesh as he was trying to "desperately" get votes.
"He is talking about nine per cent reservation. Even if he turns things upside down, it will not happen. Only Lok Sabha can do something," the JD-U leader said.
"The manner in which this man (Khurshid) is trying to muster votes, he should be banned by the PM in UP. If there was a good PM, he would have been sacked," Yadav told reporters in Lucknow.
As far as EC is concerned it should be talked about in a respected manner, he said.
The JD(U) president accused the union law minister of publicising personal matters. "I feel what he said about Sonia Gandhi was not true," he said referring to Khurshid's remarks about the AICC chief's allegedly emotional reaction to the Batla House encounter.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesman Ravi Shanker Prasad said it has to be seen whether the PM or Congress president Sonia Gandhi now take any action or keep silent.
Image: Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav
'Don't try to tilt things in your favour by misusing govt post'
Ravi Shanker Prasad said it was unfortunate that the law minister, whose responsibility is to safeguard the law is not adhering to EC directives.
"We hope that stern action is taken otherwise we will consider that the government is speaking the same language," he said.
He said the question was that of institutional sanctity of a constitutional body.
"EC passes an order castigating you don't do it, it is a constitutional body...you say you will continue to do so and publicly hold the commission in contempt, he said.
Claiming that nine per cent quota to minorities was not part of Congress manifesto, Prasad said the announcement should not have been made with the model code of conduct in force.
"You cannot announce a new policy when model code of conduct is in force. Don't try to tilt things in your favour by misusing the government post," he said.
On Digvijay Singh coming to the defence of Khurshid, he said the Congress general secretary could not be taken seriously as he kept changing his stand.
"A couple of days back the Congress leader (Singh) said that Sonia did not have tears and what Salman said was wrong and now he is standing in favour of the minister. He can't be taken seriously as we don't know what happens tomorrow," he said.
Image: Congress leader Digvijay Singh