An embarrassed Congress on Saturday distanced itself from party general secretary Digvijay Singh's controversial reporting of a conversation he had with Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare shortly before he was killed by terrorists on 26/11. Karkare had apparently told Mr. Singh that he feared for his safety from Hindu extremists.
“There is no question of [one] agreeing or disagreeing [with that statement],” Congress media chairperson Janardan Dwivedi told journalists, stressing, “it concerns a conversation between two individuals. Unfortunately one of them, Karkare, is no more with us. Digvijay Singh will, therefore, be in a better position to comment on his statement.”
Mr. Dwivedi also pointed out that Karkare, whose family was from Madhya Pradesh, had a personal association with Mr. Singh, and that was why the IPS officer had called him. Saying the party had nothing to say on the purported conversation, Mr. Dwivedi noted: “Mr. Singh has made that private conversation public in a programme, and the party has no role into it. Hence only he can comment on it.”
Faced with a belligerent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing him of weakening the war on Islamic terror, an indignant Kavita Karkare who stressed that Pakistan was behind the incident, and his own party distancing itself from his statement, Mr. Singh retreated and said that he had not said that the RSS was behind the incident.
Earlier, the BJP lashed out at Mr. Singh, saying he was trying to divert attention from the scams facing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, even while seeking a clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the issue.
BJP's chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, claiming that Mr. Singh's comments had harmed the country's security, its fight against terror and investigations into the 26/11 attacks case, said the Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, as well as Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, would now ask, “Why are we being framed in 26/11 when a senior Congress leader is questioning the circumstances of Karkare's killing?”
The Congress also suffered another setback as Mr. Singh's statement hit the headlines even as WikiLeaks released a December 2008 American embassy cable, accusing the party of playing “communal politics” in not distancing itself from similar comments made by A.R. Antulay, then Minority Affairs Minister.