M A I N   N E W S

Ram Jethmalani threatens PM

Lucknow, April 11
Attacking the BJP for dragging the AICC President Sonia Gandhi in the Bofors case, senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who is contesting as a Congress-backed Independent against Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today asked the saffron party not to take campaigning to the “gutter” and claimed he, too, had something which, if revealed, “will implicate the Prime Minister and his colleagues”.

“If it does not stop, I too will say something from which the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues will not remain unaffected,” Mr Jethmalani told reporters here.

On being pressed, he said he did not want to break the bond of friendship (with Vajpayee), adding “let the time come”.

When asked whether he was not forthcoming because of “lack of evidence”, the firebrand lawyer retorted: “I am not Lindstrom (the Swedish police officer, whose statement on Bofors has created a lot of controversy). I am an Indian citizen and subject to the law of defamation”.

Mr Jethmalani said even Lindstorm had admitted that his charges could not be proved in the Court of Law.

“It is mean. It is dirty to level such allegations against a widow whose husband has been acquitted,” he said.

Mr Jethmalani said in the 26 volumes of the Bofors case chargesheet, the name of Sonia Gandhi had not found mention anywhere.

Accusing the BJP of adopting double standards, he said they are ready to believe a police officer of foreign origin despite the fact that the case was thrown out of by the court but they continue to attack the foreign origin of Sonia Gandhi.

On being pointed out that he, too, had levelled allegations against former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the matter, he said “Rajiv had unnecessarily allowed himself to be surrounded by doubts”.

Mr Jethmalani said the Gujarat carnage had pricked his conscience and he decided to put before the people what he thought about those responsible for it.

Mr Jethmalani, who has claimed support of the Congress, Lok Janshakti Party and Rashtravadi Communist Party, said the newly formed Bahujan Kisan Dal, led by the Bhartiya Kisan Union President Mahendra Singh Tikait’s son Rakesh Tikait and whose chairman is former Uttar Pradesh Governor Romesh Bhandari has pledged support to his candidature. — PTI


Ravindra Jain in BJP fold

Noted music director Ravinder Jain sings a song after he joined the BJP
Noted music director Ravinder Jain sings a song after he joined the BJP in New Delhi on Sunday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, April 11
It was an amusing “homecoming” for music director Ravindra Jain as he joined the BJP today, some three weeks after he showed up at the AICC headquarters to lend a helping hand to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha elections.

And that was not enough. For the media personnel, the musician also sang a Hindi song composed by him for the BJP, describing Mrs Gandhi as a “videshi bahu”, much to the comfort of the BJP leaders.

Mr Jain said he had all along been a BJP supporter and would vigorously campaign for the party in the elections.

When a reporter asked him what he was doing at the BJP office only days after his visit to the AICC headquarter in support of Mrs Gandhi, this is what Mr Jain had to say: “Yahan se kab gaya tha main, jo ab aane pe achhrajh hai, yahan sau baar gaya thaa, kyo ab gaane pe achhrajh hai (when did I leave this place, that you are surprised now, I have sung 100 times here, so why are you surprised now).”

Union Minister and BJP candidate for the Sadar Lok Sabha seat in Delhi Vijay Goel, who was also present at the press conference, stated that he had known Mr Jain for years as a BJP supporter.

“Before Mr Jain went to the AICC headquarters, he came to me and told me that he has been invited by the Congress to the party office. He also told me that he was in dilemma since he has always supported the BJP. However, I advised him to go to the AICC and not turn down the invitation,” Mr Goel added.

Mr Jain had visited the AICC headquarters on March 20 and praised the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, causing acute embarrassment to the Congress leaders.

The music director of the “Ramayana” fame praised Mr Vajpayee as “someone above controversy” and refused to say anything against him. He was significantly silent on Mrs Gandhi. — UNI


Ex-BSP leader joins Congress

In video:
Former BSP leader Rashid Alvi joins Congress.
(28k, 56k)

New Delhi, April 11
After Syed Sahabuddin, the Congress today roped in another prominent Muslim face when expelled BSP leader Rashid Alvi joined the party giving it a major boost in Uttar Pradesh ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

Alvi, a member of the dissolved Lok Sabha from Amroha in UP, today met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and expressed his desire to join the party which she immediately accepted.

Mr Alvi said his decision to join the Congress followed his failure to unite secular forces to take on the BJP-led NDA.

“I tried my level best for a BSP-Congress tie up for the coming Lok Sabha polls on line with what we did for the four assembly elections — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi — but failed due to Ms Mayawati’s compulsion following the case against her in Taj corridor issue,” Mr Alvi told reporters. — PTI

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