Sikh protests force Tytler to opt out (Lead)

April 9th, 2009 - 8:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) Pushed to the wall after widespread protests by Sikhs over his exoneration by the CBI, beleaguered Congress leader Jagdish Tytler Thursday opted out of the electoral fray but left the final decision to the party.
“I don’t think I should fight (the election),” Tytler told a packed news conference here, adding that he did not want to cause “embarassment” to the party. He said he would meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and abide by her orders over his Lok Sabha candidature for the Delhi Northeast constituency.

“Whatever she says is law for me… If she says that the atmosphere is not right, I will respect that” and not contest, he said, adding that there was not an “iota of truth” in allegations of his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

He also lashed out at the media, saying it had tarnished his name and that of his family. “A lot of damage has been done to me and my family.”

The present controversy was sparked off after a Sikh journalist, Jarnail Singh, threw a shoe at Home Minister P. Chidambaram protesting over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) exonerating Tytler in the riots in a report filed in the court.

The journalist received widespread support from the Sikh community, forcing the Congress to reconsider Tytler’s candidature.

Tytler is alleged to have led a mob targeting Sikhs after the Oct 31, 1984, assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards. Tytler has stoutly denied his involvement and said he was being framed.

Hundreds of Sikhs gathered Thursday outside a Delhi court which was to decide on the CBI’s closure report in the case. The court, however, put off the hearing to April 28.

Tytler also said no one from the Congress party had approached him to back out from his candidature. He said he had only spoken to Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel.

“Twelve commissions (of inquiry) had been appointed (into the riots), five by the BJP and seven by the Congress. There were 13,500 affidavits filed in the riots. Not a single affidavit has been filed against me,” he said.

He also said if he contests the elections now he would win by over 200,000 votes.

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