Congress leader re-ignites quota controversy, opposition furious (Roundup)February 16th, 2012 - 10:53 pm ICT by IANS
Lucknow/New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) Congress leader and Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s promise on quota for Muslims re-ignited the reservation row in the midst of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections Thursday with party ally Trinamool Congress demanding that the poll panel take action against him and the BJP questioning the prime minister’s “silence” on the matter.
Verma’s remarks came only a day after Law Minister Salman Khurshid expressed regret to the Election Commission over his speech on promising quota to backward Muslims.
The Congress, however, spoke in different voices on the issue.
Trinamool Congress leader Sultan Ahmed accused Verma of violating the model code of conduct and demanded that Election Commission should bar Verma from campaigning in the state till elections are over.
“The Congress leaders are trying to befool the country. No one will listen to their nonsense,” said Ahmed, Minister of State for Tourism.
Trinamool Congress approached the Election Commission (EC) complaining against political parties, including Congress, for using muscle and money power to get votes in the Uttar Pradesh elections.
Verma had during a political rally at Kayamganj assembly constituency in Farrukhabad district Wednesday assured quota for Muslims if the party comes to power in the state.
Clarifying his remarks, Verma Thursday said: “I said in Farrukhabad that Muslims have not got their due and the central government has made reservation of 4.5 percent for them and it needs to be increased.
In Lucknow, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said there was “nothing wrong” in what Verma has said as “increasing quota for Muslims is part of the Congress manifesto” and it “was not a violation of election model code of conduct”.
In New Delhi, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said all Congress leaders should use restrained language during poll campaign.
“This applies to me, to Salman Khurshid and also to Beni Prasad Verma,” she told reporters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit out at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “deafening silence” on the issue and hinted they were doing it with the knowledge of the higher ups.
“One minister after another taking on the Election Commission cannot happen without the approval of party president Sonia Gandhi,” he added.
Party leader Sushma Swaraj, addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh, said reservation to the Muslims was an attempt to divide the country.
Political parties are aggressively courting Muslims in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh as they constitute around 19 percent of the total voters.
- Congress in quota controversy again (Lead) - Feb 16, 2012
- After Khurshid, another minister promises quotas in UP - Feb 16, 2012
- BJP hits out at PM's 'deafening silence' - Feb 16, 2012
- Poll panel asks Verma to explain 'wilfull' sub-quota remark (Lead) - Feb 18, 2012
- BJP complains to poll panel against Verma's quota remarks (Lead) - Feb 17, 2012
- Quota remarks: Poll panel notice to Verma, minister unfazed (Second Lead) - Feb 18, 2012
- Congress to reply to poll panel on Verma's comments - Feb 20, 2012
- Trinamool complains to EC against money power in UP polls - Feb 16, 2012
- Not guilty of violating model code, Verma tells poll panel (Lead) - Feb 21, 2012
- All respect for poll panel but said nothing wrong: Verma - Feb 18, 2012
- Advani accuses Congress of communalising UP polls - Feb 19, 2012
- BJP complains to poll panel over quota controversy - Feb 17, 2012
- Have not violated poll code, says Khurshid - Jan 11, 2012
- Poll panel censures Khurshid for quota announcement (Lead) - Feb 09, 2012
- Khurshid, Verma repeat violators of poll code: Jaitley - Feb 19, 2012
Tags: ambika soni, assembly elections, bjp, central government, congress leader, congress leaders, congress manifesto, different voices, digvijay singh, election commission, general secretary, law minister, minister of state, model code, money power, political rally, poll campaign, prasad, sultan ahmed, uttar pradesh elections