‘Have only said what was in Cong manifesto’

Breaking his silence regarding minority reservation, Salman Khurshid said that the EC was entitled to petition the President.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Breaking his silence on the ongoing controversy regarding the minority reservation issue, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said on Sunday evening that the Election Commission was entitled to petition the President.

The Union Law Minister argued that his controversial comments
on quota for minorities was an issue of governance and did not
relate to polls even as the Congress virtually disapproved of
the statement.

The issue has nothing to do with elections and it`s an
issue of governance, Khurshid said about his comments on sub
quota for Muslims made during poll campaign.

Khurshid told reporters he has only said what is there in
the Congress manifesto and that the Election Commission is
perfectly entitled to do what it wanted.

Khurshid also said there may be different points of view
but there are no differences.

The Congress while distancing itself from Khurshid`s
remarks said the party always wants its leaders to speak as
per the norms of public life and law of the land.

"The Election Commission is a constitutional body.
Congress always wants that all Congressmen should speak as per
the norms of public life and the law of the land," AICC
General Secretary and media department Chairman Janardan
Dwivedi said in a statement.

The deadlock between the Constitutional authority and the Law Minister is being seen as unprecedented in the political circles. Khurshid has taken the EC head-on and seems to be in no mood to relent.

Earlier today in the day, the Law Minister had refused to comment on Election Commission`s move seeking "immediate and decisive" intervention of President Pratibha Patil.

"I will not talk to anyone...When I have to say something I say it," Khurshid told
reporters when asked about the EC`s yesterday`s recommendation.

The EC had had last night sought the intervention of the President after it charged Khurshid with "improper and unlawful" defiance of its orders under which he was censured for promising sub-quota for minorities.

In a strongly-worded communication to Patil, the Commission had said Khurshid`s action could "vitiate free and fair polls" in Uttar Pradesh and that the EC was "perturbed because the undermining of its constitutionally-mandated duties has come from the Law Minister who has direct responsibility to uphold and strengthen the EC rather than to denigrate it".

The Commission took the unprecedented decision to complain against a union minister to the President after Khurshid had told an election rally in UP on Friday night that he would continue to pursue the line on nine percent sub-quota for minorities `even if they (EC) hang me`.

Khurshid had earlier been censured for the same statement made on January 8 while campaigning in UP, with EC holding it as violative of the Model Code of Conduct.

The Opposition has been gunning for Salman Khurshid`s neck ever since the controversy broke out saying that his continuance as the Law Minister had become untenable. The BJP called for immediate ‘sacking’ of the senior Congress leader as a Cabinet minister.

"The PM should sack Khurshid for making comments on EC. No minister had ever made comments against the EC in such a way. After being censured by the Commission, the minister is making mockery of model code of conduct," Advani said, while addressing an election meeting in Bhadohi today.

Adding to what the senior BJP leader said, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said, “"I have reason to believe it`s a part of scripted conspiracy by Congress to communalise the UP elections...the more it`s done...you might save yourself from the utter disgrace," Jaitely alleged while talking to the reporters in Lucknow.

"The attitude of Union Law Minister after receiving EC order was that of defiance - saying that whether EC hangs him, he would make announcements. This lawlessness of the minister has no place in country`s democracy," he added.

Meanwhile, according to reports Salman Khurshid met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the evening to discuss the burning issue. He reportedly told Manmohan Singh that any position taken by the PM was acceptable to him. The Law Minister also clarified that he had no intention of defying the EC.

With PTI inputs

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