February 2016 News
P Chidambaram Says It's 'possible To Question SC's Afzal Verdict', Cong Squirms25 February 2016
Times of India
New Delhi: Congress on Thursday distanced itself from the remarks of former home minister P Chidambaram and said there was no need to question the Supreme Court verdict on Afzal Guru, betraying a worry that the comment from the senior leader had landed the party in a tight spot. Chidambaram's reported statement that Afzal's hanging was 'perhaps not correctly decided' echoed in Parliament, raised by parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and finance minister Arun Jaitley. Naidu said nobody who was given reasonable time, opportunity and finally received a verdict from the highest court of the land had a right to express disaffection towards society. He added that one could not say that the court had decided the case wrongly while being in government. 'But an independent person can hold an opinion that the case was not decided correctly,' he said. BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma called it 'unfortunate' and an 'insult' to martyrs of the Parliament attack and the judiciary. He demanded that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi make it clear if her party was with 'traitors' or martyrs. Sharma added that it was the 'height of vote bank politics' that the former home minister of the same government which decided to hang Afzal was now questioning his conviction. That Chidambaram's opinion came on a day Congress was battling BJP's charge that its defence of the controversial JNU meeting was akin to siding with 'anti-national' elements, made matters worse. Sensing political trouble, AICC sought to douse the fire by trying to pull itself out of the firing line. 'Be it Ajmal Kasab or Afzal Guru, both were tried during Congress governments in accordance with the law. Both were terrorists and were punished. No other conclusion is warranted once the Supreme Court has upheld the case with the harshest penalty as advocated by the Congress government,' AICC spokesman Randeep Surjewala said. Besides the distancing, the bid to underline that Congress was behind the convictions appeared an attempt to quell the perception that it was defending the slain terrorists. It was felt that the senior leader had spoken at the wrong time but many added his remark may have been misinterpreted. As per reports, Chidambaram, who was home minister in UPA, said it was possible to hold an 'honest opinion' that the Afzal Guru case was 'perhaps not correctly decided' and that there were 'grave doubts about the extent of his involvement' in the attack on Parliament.