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Antulay: Congress caught between terror and votebank

December 20, 2008 18:38 IST

The fate of Minority affairs Minister continued to hang in balance as Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] to A R Antulay day grappled with the mess arising out of his  controversial remarks on the killing of Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare.

The meeting to resolve the situation caused by his remarks raising questions over the circumstances surrounding the killing of Karkare by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai ended without a decision and the government's position is expected to be made clear in Parliament before it winds up business for the session on December 23.

The hour-long meeting of the Congress Core Group at the residence of the Prime Minister is believed to have gone into the pros and cons of the matter but there was no official word on whether his resignation was being accepted.

Opposition BJP and Shiv Sena having been gunning for Antulay's removal from the Cabinet accusing him of compromising the country's position vis a vis terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil.

"No decision has been taken. The position will be made clear in the session of Parliament concluding on December 23," said a senior leader who declined to be identified.

Meanwhile, Antulay, who has resigned in the wake of apolitical storm over his remarks and the opposition demand for his removal from the Union Cabinet, received rare support from his party when AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh saw nothing "objectionable" in the minister's statement.

"Antulay has been misreported. What he has asked for is a probe which is already on.  What is objectionable in his statement," Singh  told reporters in Varanasi.

The Congress, however, had in the last two days distanced itself from Antulay's remarks saying they were his personal views.

Singh said the BJP, VHP and RSS had raised doubts about the integrity of Karkare because he was investigating the Malegaon blasts in which Hindus were arrested.

Against this backdrop, Karkare was killed in the terrorist attack in Mumbai and it was "natural" to think that whether he was murdered.

"But this possibility appears to be low because the course of events minimises it. Antulay has said the matter should be investigated that who ordered him (Karkare) to go there. What is objectionable in that," Singh said.

Two Muslim MPs from Uttar Pradesh- -Ilyas Azmi of BSP and Rasheed Masood of Samajwadi Party--backed Antulay's demand for a probe into Karkare's death.


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