Political storm erupts over Antony's statement on LoC killings; BJP asks govt to rectify the mistake

Antony Parliament_1.jpg

New Delhi: Political storm over Defence Minister A.K. Antony's statement on LoC killing paralysed Parliament on Wednesday with an aggressive Opposition accusing him of giving a 'clean chit' to Pakistan Army and demanding his apology.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were repeatedly adjourned before being adjourned for the day at 3 PM without transacting any substantive business.
Meeting the Prime Minister later in the day, BJP lodged protest with him on Antony's 'blunder' and asked the government to rectify the 'mistake', reports said. Congress took on the opposition saying, 'it was wrong interpretation to say that the Defence Minister meant Pakistan army was not involved in LoC attack'.
Antony, who has been under fire since Tuesday for saying that 'terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform', maintained in the Rajya Sabha that his statement was based on 'whatever information' he had.
He said he would get back to the House if he got more details about Tuesday's incident in Poonch after the visit of Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh to Jammu on Wednesday. He asserted that there will be no compromise on defence and protection of integrity of the country.
BJP members, however, continued to target him and demanded apology from him for giving an 'escape route' to Pakistan to deny involvement of its army in the incident.
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said Antony cannot give a 'clean chit' to Pakistan Army to 'please' that country. She said Antony's statement had created 'confusion' by trying to absolve the Pakistan Army in the attack and it was a 'serious situation'.
"They (Pakistan Army) come to kill and our Defence Minister says Pakistan Army is not involved," she said amid chants of 'shame shame' from her party colleagues. 
Swaraj said while an earlier statement by the Army and the Defence Ministry blamed terrorists and Pakistan Army regulars for the attack, Antony had said those involved in the incident were terrorists and people wearing Pakistan Army uniforms.
"The Defence Minister should apologise to the country," Swaraj said amid din over Telangana and law and order situation in West Bengal.
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present in the House, Swaraj demanded a statement from him on the issue stating categorically that Pakistan Army was involved in the attack on the Indian post in Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir. 
Earlier, raising the issue in both Houses, BJP members said the Defence Minister's statement in Parliament on Tuesday was contrary to the release of the Army prepared in Jammu. They alleged that Antony got the version of the Army statement changed and questioned why the person of sincerity, honesty and integrity did so. 
BJP had moved privilege motion in both the Houses.
Speaker Meira Kumar told BJP leader Yashwant Sinha that his notice raising questions of privilege against the Defence Minister was under her consideration.
After the first adjournment in the Lok Sabha, BJP veteran L.K. Advani called Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath in the House apparently to express BJP's strong views over the alleged contradictory stands by Antony and the Army. Swaraj was also by Advani's side.
In the Rajya Sabha, BJP members were dissatisfied with Antony's statement and trooped into the well raising slogans against Pakistan while demanding an apology from the Minister.
"Defence Minister has to clarify and tender an apology to the country. Government has let down the moral of the country and demoralised the Armed Forces. What is the response...The Minister should offer an apology," Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said.
Accusing government of "putting pressure on the Army", he said, "Why is he doing this? He should tender an apology... What compelled the government to supersede an earlier statement...Government wants to be silent. Why Antony, a person of sincerity honesty and integrity, is doing this?"
Naidu said, "The second statement gives an escape route to Pakistan. Please understand our agony. It's not a Congress or BJP issue. It is a national issue. Two contradictory statements. One statement gives an escape route to Pakistan."
Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) said, "It impinges upon national security. We would like the defence minister to explain after all the first statement is issued from Jammu, from the field, from the Armed forces."
Naidu questioned why there was change in statement by the defence minister. "Is it something to do with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's proposed visit to United Nations and hold talks with Pakistan there?"
Dissatisfied with Antony's statements, BJP members disallowed Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to carry out further legislative business when he sought to take up the Companies Bill.
The Lower House also saw Left members storming the Well protesting against attacks on opposition parties, women and weaker sections in West Bengal by ruling Trinamool Congress.
The protests by members of Seemandhra region continued in both Houses with TDP members storming the Well and Rajya Sabha even witnessing the spectacle of a TDP member, C.M. Ramesh, wearing a black band over his mouth.
Next: Antony did not give clean chit to Pak army: Congress

Antony did not give clean chit to Pak army: Congress 
New Delhi: As a political storm brewed over Defence Minister A.K. Antony's statement on the killing of five Indian soldiers in Poonch, Congress today maintained he did not give a clean chit to Pakistani Army in connection with the incident.
The party also rejected BJP's criticism of the government over handling of Pakistan affairs, saying 'war is no solution' and 'dialogue and discussion' are the only way to resolve disputes with the neigbour.
Accusing the opposition party of 'politicising' the issue for electoral gains, party spokesperson P.C. Chacko said anybody trying to fish in troubled waters will not succeed and reminded BJP what was the outcome of its peace initiatives with Pakistan during NDA rule.
Noting that it was a 'wrong' interpretation to say that the Defence Minister by his statement meant that Pakistan army was not involved in the attack along the LoC, Chacko said, "Any attempt to twist, misinterpret or politicise the issue will be unfortunate. There is no denying the role of the Pakistani army."
The Congress spokesperson added "when he (Antony) said people in Pakistani Army uniform, did he not say Pakistani Army...Did he say no Pakistani Army? Had Antony said Pakistani Army has no role?..There is no denying the role of Pakistani Army".
Rejecting the contention that the Defence Minister had committed a goof-up by his statement overriding the earlier version of the Army statement, he said "what happened there was terrorist plus armymen, that was his information. The Defence Minister gets information only from the Armed forces."
"There is no goof-up, no mistake, no contradiction. Whatever information was available with the Defence Minister, he said according to that," he said.
Rejecting suggestions that Antony gave a clean chit to Pakistani Army over its role into the attack, Chacko had a dig at BJP saying 'we know who gave a clean chit to Pakistan' and referred to Indo-Pak talks before Kargil war during NDA rule. 

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