M A I N   N E W S

Antulay to clear stand today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
It took six days and repeated disruption of the parliamentary proceedings for a defiant Minority Affairs Minister Abdur Rahaman Antulay to express an urge to clarify himself.

After the opposition NDA, led by the BJP-Shiv Sena combine, forced four adjournments in both the houses of parliament demanding resignation of Antulay and terming him a “traitor” and “Pakistani agent”, the Minister said “he would take on the BJP in the Lok Sabha tomorrow”.

“I will seek the permission of Lok Sabha Speaker to make my point on the (Hemant Karkare) issue tomorrow. Leader of the house, Pranab Mukherjee, may also speak. But no one from the party, till now, has consulted me on the issue. As for me, I will like to make myself heard, given BJP’s allegations today,” Antulay said, no less defiant than earlier.

The minister categorically indicated he was in no mood to apologise. In reply to The Tribune question whether he had been asked by the party to act in a certain manner, Antulay said: “I would have been under party pressure had I depended on the party. Had it been the case, I would not have said what I did.”

On “political mileage through his remarks”, he said: “There are less than 9 per cent Muslims in my constituency.”

When reminded that Pakistan was making a hero out of him, Antulay said: “Since when have we started accepting Pakistan’s authority on matters? Let them say what they have to. I am a human being. And as one, I will react every time I see someone under threat. If I don’t, I will cease to be a human.”

Reiterating his earlier stand on ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s killing, he said: “I want a probe into what led Karkare towards Cama hospital instead of the Taj. That’s all. I never said Karkare was not killed by Pakistani terrorists.”

Antulay’s new-found confidence shone through the day in Lok Sabha also with several MPs lining up to congratulate him. Seated next to Antulay was MoS (Home) Shakeel Ahmad.

Outside the parliament today, the Minister was quick to take on Congress spokespersons Abhishek Singhvi and Manish Tiwari, who earlier said the party had distanced itself from his statements. “They never consulted me before saying anything,” said Antulay, who sat at the heart of a storm in parliament all day, with BJP’s Santosh Gangwar leading the charge against him in LS.

“Antulay has weakened India’s case against Pakistan by claiming that the terrorists were not Pakistanis. It is shameful that a minister should be a proud of saying something like that,” said Gangwar.

Earlier, the BJP and Shiv Sena, post question hour, kept storming the well of the house, raising anti-UPA and anti-Antulay slogans: “Antulay-Zardari Bhai Bhai”, “Antulay is a fraud”; “A Pak agent can’t stay in this house.”

In the Rajya Sabha today, BJP and its allies stormed into the well of the house while demanding sacking of Antulay.

Immediately after the obituary references to former member TG Deshmukh, BJP member Vinay Katiyar raised the matter saying the government had promised a statement on Antulay issue. “A government statement is yet to come even as the minister has been reiterating his position on television channels,” he said.

Katiyar was joined in by other BJP members, who took to sloganeering demanding a statement either by the Prime Minister or the Home Minister.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, who was in the chair, had to adjourn the house several times in view of the prevailing pandemonium. Undeterred by the noisy scenes, Deputy Chairman Rahman Khan asked the government to present the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill 2008 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) (Union Territories) Order (Amendment) Bill 2007.

The Bills, presented by Minister of State Prithviraj Chavan, were passed by the house amidst the ruckus being created by both the opposition and Left parties.

As the chaos continued and nothing could be heard, Khan adjourned the house within 10 minutes and said it would assemble at 11 am tomorrow.



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