India

Cong Distances Itself from Digvijaya Singh’s Remark

New Delhi (ET): Congress has distanced itself from yet another controversy triggered by senior party General Secretary Digvijaya Singh with his criticism of the burial of world’s most-wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden . The party high command disagreed with Singh’s remarks which seemed critical of US action of burying the dreaded terrorist at sea, according to a source.

Digvijay Singh

However, party spokesman Manish Tewari parried questions on whether Singh’s remark on Laden’s burial is the official party view. “On the question of Laden and terror per say, we have repeatedly cleared our position. “The position of Congress has been very clearly articulated and delineated. We have nothing further to say on the articulation on the neutralisation of Laden after what we said yesterday,” he said. Tewari said, “If you sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind” , adding that he was making this observation in relation to all terrorists and terrorist organizations. Incidentally, Singh met Congress president Sonia Gandhi triggering a speculation that he had been summoned. However, the senior leader denied that he had been summoned or even ticked off for his remarks.

Speaking to reporters he said, “I met the Congress president but it was not on this issue. There was no discussion on my statement.” The party general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh had spoken on the issue after a book release function on Monday at India Islamic Centre . Singh was asked about his views on reports of US burying the al-Qaeda leader at sea in the north Arabian Sea so that his burial site does not become a shrine of sorts. Singh told reporters, “however big a criminal one might be, his religious traditions should be respected while burying him.”

The party source said the high command wants all leaders to observe caution while commenting over such internationally sensitive issues, especially at a time when the Opposition is likely to increase pressure on the Government to stop all talks with Pakistan. A senior leader told ET, that the party disagrees and disapproves of the general secretary’s remarks . Singh, however, said, “my statement has been wrongly interpreted. I stand by it.” The remarks, which were interpreted as a criticism of US technique, are being seen as an attempt to woo the minority vote bank ahead of UP Assembly polls in 2012. Singh’s political positioning on terror issues has been consistent as he had questioned the Batla House shootout, involving the Indian Mujahideen , and had demanded a judicial inquiry .

He had also met the relatives of those arrested or killed in the encounter in Azamgarh. Later, he triggered another controversy when he said that two hours before the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, slain Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad chief Hemant Karkare had spoken to him and expressed fear that his life was in danger as he was inquiring into role of Hindu outfits in terror strikes. Singh attracted Opposition ire as BJP said the Congress leader was giving Pakistan a clean chit in 26/11 attacks.

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