Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The controversy over letter written to US President Barack Obama by 65 Members of Parliament, urging him to maintain the current policy of denying visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, has intensified with nine lawmakers now claiming that their signatures were forged.
Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury Wednesday denied having signed any letter seeking denial of US visa for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying it suggested a "cut and paste" job.
DMK MP from Rajya Sabha KP Ramalingam, CPI MP Achutan, Nationalist Congress Party MPs Vandana Chavan and Sanjeev Naik, Congress MPs Marotrao Kowase, Anil Lad and Jayantrao Avale have also denied signing the letter. Two Congress MPs - Pradip Bhattacharya and Joy Abraham - said that they do not remember if they had signed the letter.
"I deny having signed any such letter. It is neither in my character nor in the principles of my party - the CPI(M) - to petition any sovereign country on matters that fall strictly within the sovereign domain of that country," he said in a statement here.
"It is this very principle that leads us to strongly oppose and denounce any external interference into India`s internal affairs undermining its sovereignty," Yechury said.
His statement came amid reports that he was among 65 Members of Parliament who had written letters to President Barack Obama, urging the US Administration to maintain the current policy of denying visa to Modi.
Observing that "much of this controversy is taking place in cyberspace," he said, "The one circulating in cyberspace, now many months after it was allegedly signed, is typed on the letterhead of a Member of Parliament which carries the insignia of our national symbol, the Ashok Chakra,” he added.
"The heading under which some signatures are appended says, `Names and Signatures of Indian MPs`...strange. Which other country`s MPs would sign on the letterhead of the Indian Parliament? This, itself, suggests some efforts at cut and paste," Yechury said.
The CPI(M) leader had yesterday made a similar statement when he was contacted for his comments on the matter.
"I would be the last person to write to the US Administration and to do something like this. We don`t want anyone to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. These are issues which will have to be settled in India politically," he had said.
The signatories include Sabir Ali and Ali Anwar Ansari (Janata Dal-U), Rasheed Masood (Congress), S Ahmed (Trinamool Congress) Asaduddin Owaisi (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen), Thirumavalavan (Viduthalai Chiruttaigal Katchi), KP Ramalingam (DMK) and SS Rasmasubbu (Congress).
Mohammed Adeeb, Independent MP from Rajya Sabha, had earlier expressed surprise on Yechury`s retraction and said that Yechury had signed the letter. He said, "Yechury must have forgotten about it as the letter is six-months-old or he must be thinking that I have written some new letter and forging his signature. This is a letter which he signed in November 2012. His name is there."
“I would welcome it if a probe is done. Will resign from RS & go to jail if signatures on letter to Obama are forged,” Md Adeeb tweeted this afternoon.
Copies of the letters were provided by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) as BJP chief Rajnath Singh, reached Washington to meet US lawmakers, think tanks and US government officials during which he said he will urge the Americans to lift the ban on visa for Modi.
The US administration had imposed the visa ban on Modi after the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
With PTI inputs