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Tytler, Sajjan shooed out of fray
Anita Katyal/Our Political Correspondent

Jagdish TytlerNew Delhi, April 9
A nervous Congress today persuaded Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar to withdraw from the electoral fray after angry demonstrators across Punjab and in the Capital protested the candidature of the two controversial leaders for their role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Although the two leaders were initially reluctant to opt out of the elections, they were eventually persuaded to do so by External Affairs Minister and senior party leader Pranab Mukherjee and Ahmed Patel, the Congress president’s political secretary.

After day-long behind-the-scenes activity, Janardan Dwivedi, chief Congress spokesperson, made a formal announcement this evening that Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were withdrawing from the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi. Tytler had been nominated for the Northeast Delhi seat while Sajjan Kumar was contesting the South Delhi seat.

“Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar have opted out of elections as they did not wish to embarrass the party,” Dwivedi told mediapersons.

Dwivedi said in view of their personal decision, the party had decided that the two leaders would not contest the upcoming elections. “The party has accepted their feelings and decided that they will not be Lok Sabha candidates of the Indian National Congress,” said Dwivedi. He added the party would name their replacements shortly.

Earlier, addressing a press conference, Tytler had said that he would not pursue his candidature in the interest of the party while maintaining that he was innocent and was being framed by his political opponents.

The Congress was forced to take this extreme step after Sikh groups stepped up their protests following the CBI’s clean chit to Tytler in the anti-Sikh riots. The matter threatened to snowball into a major political issue after an angry Sikh journalist threw a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram to protest the CBI report. There was a view in the party that the Congress president should take a final view after a Delhi court gives its verdict on the CBI’s plea for closing the case against Tytler. The case, which was to be heard today, has now been deferred.

However, the party could ill-afford to defer a decision on this sensitive issue which was threatening to spiral out of control and would have cost the party dearly in next month’s elections. Sonia Gandhi came under immense pressure, especially from Punjab Congress leaders, who pointed out that continuing with Tytler and Sajjan Kumar would severely damage the party’s poll prospects in Punjab.

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‘I’m innocent’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
Giving in to the conditions created in wake of the ongoing protests by various Sikh bodies against the CBI clean chit to him in the 1984 riots case, senior Congress leader Jagdish Tytler finally opted out of the fray in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Reiterating that he “had no role in the riots”, Tytler blamed the BJP, Akalis and a section of the media for unnecessarily dragging his name into the controversy, with an aim to “embarrass the Congress”.

Addressing mediapersons here, the Congress leader said that no court had held him guilty of involvement in the riots. “I am a disciplined party worker and I have left everything to the party president. I am not going to pursue for my ticket for the upcoming polls.”

Later in the day, the AICC withdrew Tytler as the party candidate for the North East Lok Sabha seat. Tytler denied that any top party leader had contacted him and asked him to withdraw from the contest. He was doing so voluntarily to save the party from the “embarrassment”. Tytler’s press conference came hours after a district court in the capital deferred till April 28 the hearing in an anti-Sikh riots case in which the Congress leader is one of the suspects.

Emphasising that the party was bigger than any individual, Tytler said: “It’s my moral responsibility to see that the party does not earn a bad name on any account, especially in view of the upcoming elections. Therefore, I am ready to make any sacrifice.’’

He made it a point to show his popularity among the Sikhs in his constituency. At the press conference, he was flanked by some of the local Sikh leaders as well as other party workers. His supporters shouted slogans in his favour and asked him not to withdraw from the contest. They also blocked traffic to register their anger over any move to compel Tytler to withdraw from the contest.

With Tytler’s exit from the poll fray, the Congress leadership is said to be considering the names of DPCC chief JP Aggarwal and Seelampur MLA Matin Ahmed for contesting from North-East Delhi seat.

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Court defers decision

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday deferred till April 29 its decision on CBI's recommendation for closing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rakesh Pandit fixed April 28 and 29 for hearing arguments on the CBI report, observing that the findings required a detailed analysis by giving a final chance to the agency and the complainant.

The court rejected CBI's contention that only a Sessions Court, not that of a magistrate, could take a decision on the agency's report. The ACMM also directed the CBI to submit the CDs containing the evidence in the court to facilitate its decision.

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