NEW DELHI: In a surprise move, the Congress today disowned controversial statements of Union Minister Salman Khurshid and party General Secretary Digvijay Singh on minority reservation and Batla House encounter.
Facing a barrage of questions at the AICC media briefing, party spokesman Rashid Alvi told reporters that Khurshid's promise of 9 per cent sub-quota for OBC Muslims in Uttar Pradesh was his "individual" view.
Seeking to disapprove of Digvijay Singh's claim that the 2008 gun fight of Delhi Police with suspected terrorists was 'fake', Alvi said the Congress supports government's stand on Batla House encounter.
On his part Khurshid, who is Law and Minority Affairs Minister, maintained he had no regrets on what he had said on the sub-quota for OBC Muslims. He also said he has not done anything unlawful by his statement on granting 9 per cent quota for minorities.
Alvi merely said that there was "inner party democracy in our party".
"It is an individual view. It would be better if you ask Khurshid for his reaction in the matter. There is inner party democracy in our party", was Alvi's response to a host of questions including whether the party saw nothing wrong with the Minister's statement.
Signalling that the party was not happy with Singh again speaking on the Batla House issue, Alvi said that there had been a nationwide debate after the 2008 incident, which is a "very sensitive matter"
"People have different opinions on the issue and no one should do politics on the matter", he said evading direct replies to several questions a day after Home Minister P Chidambaram's assertion that the encounter was "genuine".
The remarks came amidst report that Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi had complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about Khurshid's earlier statement suggesting the Law Ministry's control over the Election Commission.
Khurshid made the promise of nine per cent sub-quota for Muslims within the existing 27 per cent OBC quota in Farrukhabad Assembly Constituency in Uttar Pradesh where his wife Louise is in the fray.
He was slapped with a notice on Tuesday by the Election Commission which held that prima facie his promise on sub-quota for backward Muslims within existing 27 per cent OBC quota was "serious violation" of the model code of conduct.
He replied to the notice yesterday, defending his statement by citing the 2009 Congress poll manifesto in which the party had promised to provide for a sub-quota for minorities.
Digvijay Singh had raised a fresh controversy yesterday by sticking to his claim that the the Batla House encounter here was "fake" even as Home Minister P Chidambaram insisted that the gunfight between security forces and terrorists was "genuine".
Singh also said that now after the lapse of so much time, he feels a judicial inquiry into the episode is not possible.
"I stand by the opinion I formed two-three days after the encounter after knowing all the facts. I stick to my stand on it," he had said when asked about Chidambaram's disagreeing with his contention that the 2008 encounter was fake.
Terming it as his personal opinion, Singh had wondered how five-six bullets can hit somebody in the head in an encounter.
At the same time, he said he does not doubt the courage and the sacrifice made Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma who was killed in that counter.
Asked about the Home Minister's views, Singh said "he has more facts and also has the government reports."
A senior party leader, who declined to be identified, said that the statements of Khurshid and Singh would help the party's opponents to polarise the voters in politically crucial UP on communal lines.
"The two leaders have unnecessarily given two issues to the detractors of the party at a time when the party is making every effort to reach out to all sections of society", the leader said.