BJP LEADERS UPSET OVER ADVANI'S APOLOGY TO SONIA
From Our Delhi Bureau
NEW DELHI: Senior Bhartiya Janata Party leaders are quite upset over their leader Lal Krishna Advani rushing an apology letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi without any consultations within the party.
Their contention is that the BJP had outsourced investigations into the black money stashed abroad to a 4-member 'task force' and as such Advani had no reason to apologise on its findings, more so when neither he nor any other BJP leader had seen the report before releasing it that levels the accusation on Sonia Gandhi and her family.
The report titled "India's corruption and crime money parked in Swiss bank and other tax havens" was released at a NDA Press conference at Advani's residence here on February 1 and Sonia Gandhi had reportedly sent a protest letter to him for the insinuations against her, asserting that she has no foreign accounts.
Even if Advani wrote back expressing regrets as the working chairman of the NDA, he should have first discussed it in a meeting of the NDA partners who were in any way meeting on Monday, his detractors said, wondering what was hurry for the party stalwart to send the apology. Moreover, they said he did not even refer to Sonia's letter at a BJP office-bearers' meeting in Kolkata on Tuesday and as such the media flashing his apology came as a bombshell for them.
First to go on record and confirm the apology was BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad.
He said Advani had written to Sonia Gandhi expressing regrets for causing any hurt to her and her family and pointed out that such allegations had been aired in various quarters for years and the same would not have found their way into the party report if she had denied them earlier.
Those upset with Advani for putting the BJP into embarrassment, however, insist that it was not a party report but one submitted to the party by the task forces for which the party cannot be held responsible.
For that matter, they say there are many controversial claims in the report that cannot be owned up by the BJP and moreover they were not surprised by mention of Sonia Gandhi in the report as its authors included Chennai-based chartered accountant S Gurumurthy who has a personal agenda against her for years.
CONG DOUBLESPEAK: Meanwhile, Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed welcomed Advani's apology, but there came a tongue-in-cheek attack from Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni that she had thought Advani had "retired" and she thought he had left space for younger people like Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley who are now occupying two positions of leaders of Houses" of Parliament.
Ambika Soni reacted when she was approached by reporters for her comments on the sidelines of a function here. She added: "Mr Advani has been making a statement every day on different subjects... probably he (is) not having enough study of what he is saying."
At the AICC Press briefing, spokesman Shakeel Ahmed was careful in stating that "what I have seen is only in the media, but if it is true, it is welcome."