NEW DELHI: With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expected to intervene in Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s spat with the Election Commission (EC), the Congress on Monday appeared to be a divided house over the issue. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said model code of conduct (MCC) “has no statutory status”, which implies that Khurshid need not apologise to the poll panel. Congress media department chairman Janardhan Dwivedi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, however, advocated caution and stressed that the “party leaders and union ministers should not cross the Laxman rekha”.
“The model code of conduct is a voluntary code of conduct between various political parties and it doesn’t really have that kind of statutory status,” Tewari said during his routine press briefing. He hinted that Khurshid’s action would not invite further action. This line was, however, not supported by Congress trouble-shooter Pranab Mukherjee and Janardhan Dwivedi.
“The Congress has made it clear that people occupying posts of responsibility should speak responsibly. This is not a party issue,” Pranab said in Allahabad.
Echoing Pranab’s views, Dwivedi said, “the party leaders and Union Ministers should not cross the limit.”
Meanwhile, the BJP was in no mood to back off, and demanded that Khurshid should apologise to the EC, or else “The PM should sack Khurshid from the Union Cabinet”.
Speaking at an election meeting at Chandauli in Uttar Pradesh, BJP President Nitin Gadkari said: “Khurshid is not the law minister but lawless minister.”
Senior BJP leader L K Advani lauded the EC for its prompt action and asked the Law Minister to apologise to the poll panel. The “sack-Khurshid” call was repeated by the BJP spokesperson in the capital.
At an election rally for his wife at Farrukhabad, Khurshid had promised a nine per cent minority sub quota under the total 33 per cent OBC reservations if Congress was voted to power. With the BJP approaching the poll panel, Khurshid was censured by the EC. The minister, however, said that he would stick to his stance “even if the EC hangs him”.
“Practically even after a week Salman Khurshid is unrepentant and is actually defiant. This is an example of votebank politics, communal politics, corrupt politics, that denigrates all constitutional authority. This has fully exposed the Congress,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
“Khurshid’s continuation as Law Minister will be a mockery of law. We will continue to oppose this vociferously,” Javadekar said.