|HOME | ELECTION | REPORT|
|August 31, 1999||
Mahajan points to HT report as a Congress dirty trick
Information and Broadcasting Minister Pramod Mahajan today claimed that the report filed by the concerned correspondent of Hindustan Times regarding his statement purportedly equating Congress president Sonia Gandhi with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky was ''distorted.''
Talking to newspersons in New Delhi, Mahajan produced what he said was a copy of a handwritten letter the Bombay-based correspondent had written to his executive editor in Delhi.
Pramod Pagedar, the Bombay bureau chief of the English daily wrote to Bharat Bhushan, executive editor of the paper, saying that his story was ''distorted at the Delhi-end by someone for reasons best known to him or her.... the distortion in the copy has been enhanced with such comments as 'Mr Mahajan's spurious logic was lost on the crowd.' ''
''I think this is unfair as much to me as it is to Pramod Mahajan who did not utter certain words that have been attributed to him, giving the erroneous impression that he equates Sonia Gandhi with Monica Lewinsky,'' the letter said and added that ''I shall be grateful if you (Bharat Bhushan) could carry a suitable clarification in our paper in this regard and help placing the record straight.''
Mahajan said the Hindustan Times was the only newspaper which had reported that he had allegedly equated Sonia Gandhi with Monica Lewinsky. Asked how could he lay his hands on Pagedar's letter, the information and broadcasting minister refused to disclose the source saying that ''as newsmen don't disclose their sources, I am also not going to do so.''
Mahajan asserted that he had never equated Sonia Gandhi with Monica Lewinsky. He had repeatedly said in his public meetings ''we welcome Sonia Gandhi because she is Rajiv Gandhi's wife, we have affection for her because she is Indira Gandhi's daughter-in-law, we respect her as she is the Congress president but because of her foreign origin and political inexperience, the people of India will never accept her as the prime minister.''
He said that he had repeated these remarks in more than 50 public meetings in Maharashtra before the Hindustan Times story appeared on August 27.
On the basis of that report, he said, he had been threatened in many ways like the burning of his effigy and the disruption of his public meetings. He was even accused of being anti-women and unbalanced, the BJP leader said.
Mahajan said that the ''villification campaign'' against him was based on the particular news report. He said that he was convinced that this campaign was a ''reprehensible antic of the dirty tricks department of the Congress working in connivance with some people in the Hindustan Times. Faced with imminent defeat in the elections, a frustrated and demoralised Congress party is stooping to spreading lies and falsehood to resurrect their dwindling fortunes,'' he asserted and said ''now the cat is out of the bag, I don't think I can give better evidence than I have given.''
Appealing to the media to project the ''correct version,'' Mahajan said as for the Hindustan Times, which is an old and reputed newspaper, ''I leave it to their conscience for the atonement of the wrong done to me.''
Meanwhile, the Hindustan Times today said it stood by its report. Asserting this in a statement, the daily's executive editor Bharat Bhushan also released the news copy filed by the paper's correspondent on Mahajan's speech in the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra.
Bharat Bhushan said at the core of the report was a quote which was used verbatim and read as ''we also know that Soniaji was the favourite bahu of Indiraji. But is that good enough for us to let a foreign-born person such as Sonia to become our prime minister? If we are so keen on having a foreigner as the PM why not have Tony Blair or Bill Clinton or even Monica Lewinsky.''
''By any reckoning he was equating Mrs Gandhi with Ms Lewinsky,'' Bharat Bhushan said.
ELECTION 99 |
SINGLES | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK