Cong in damage-control mode, Tytler, Sajjan wont fight polls

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 11 2009, 03:40am hrs
Moving swifty to contain the damage over the the mounting controversy revolving around its senior leaders alleged involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, which had begun to polarise Sikh votes in Punjab and Delhi, the Congress on Thursday decided to withdraw both its riots tainted candidates, Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar from the electoral fray.

The announcement was made this evening by Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi following a meeting of the Central election committee headed by Sonia Gandhi which discussed the issue. The issue became alive when the BJP-Akali Dal combine seized on the opportunity to corner the Congress in the wake of a Sikh journalist lobbing a shoe at home minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday protesting against the clean chit to Tytler given by the CBI. Both Tytler and Sajjan Kumar have been earlier denied party tickets following controversy over the alleged involvement in the riots case.

Earlier in the day, Tytler held a press conference and virtually announced his decision to withdraw from the electoral racein line with the standard Congress formula of easing out leaders caught in a sudden cloud. My heart says a lot of embarrassment has been caused to the party. I dont think I should fight, he told to mediapersons here. Tytler, however, said he was leaving the final decision to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to decide whether he should contest in view of the vicious campaign launched by BJP and Akali Dal and the atmosphere created by the media.

Within minutes of his press conference, the AICC said that it deeply appreciated the stand taken by the beleaguered leader. He had given his views and said that he is a disciplined soldier of the party and left the issue to the party president. We deeply appreciate that Tytler had made a statement with clarity that whatever the party decides he will abide by it, party spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters here.

Tytlers exit was effected by Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Gandhi and senior leaders Pranab Mukherjee and Oscar Fernandes. Mounting embarrassment on the issue had led to concern in the party that its prospects in Punjab, where it stands of good chance of reclaiming a number of seats, could be affected if the Congress leadership did not act fast.

Such embarrassment has been caused to the party and my family. I have left it to Congress president to decide (on my candidature). If she says, I will welcome this and I will not even think of fighting elections if the party does not want, he said. I take moral responsibility. I dont want to put the party into any embarrassment...I am not going pursue my ticket, he said. Whatever the Congress president says, I will do... Her word is law for m1e, he added.