Congress drops Tytler, Sajjan after Sikh protests (Lead)

April 9th, 2009 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Acting swiftly in the wake of widespread protests of Sikhs, the Congress Thursday dropped Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar as its Lok Sabha candidates for their alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
An hour after Tytler announced that he was opting out of the electoral fray, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi announced that the two were not party candidates for the Lok Sabha polls that begin April 16.

“As you all know that Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar have said that they don’t want to embarrass the party by contesting the Lok Sabha elections in an atmosphere vitiated by some political parties and individuals,” Dwivedi told reporters.

“The party leadership while appreciating their sentiments has accepted their wishes and decided that they will not be the Lok Sabha candidates of the Indian National Congress,” Dwivedi said.

The Congress decided to axe Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in the wake of widespread protests by Sikhs over their alleged role in inciting mobs against Sikhs following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi on Oct 31, 1984. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) exonerating Tytler in a case relating to the riots has angered the community.

The two leaders have withdrawn from the electoral fray to ensure that the “political and social harmony” was not disturbed, Dwivedi said.

He said their replacements would be decided shortly.

The Congress has responded “very sensitively” to the people’s reaction, said Manish Tewari, a spokesperson for the Congress party.

The announcement came on a day of state-wide protests in Punjab and New Delhi over the candidature of the two Congress leaders.

Both Tytler and Sajjan Kumat have vehemently denied any role in the in the killings of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984.

It all started with Delhi-based Sikh journalist Jarnail Singh chucking a shoe at Home Minister P.Chidambaram at a press conference at the ciongress headquarters here Tuesday to record his protest over the clean chit given to Tytler by the CBI in a 1984 riots case.

Although Jarnail Singh denied any political motive behind his shoe protest, the incident became prime time news with the Akali Dal and other Sikh organisations cashing in on it for electoral gains.

The incident came as a setback to the Congress party which was hoping to win more seats in Punjab this time round. A public opnion poll conducted by a TV news channel even forecast that the Congress would win seven Lok Sabha seats in Punjab.

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