Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Govt cornered, BJP on back-foot Sushma condemns Vaidik-Sayeed meeting
New Delhi: Congress party in its new avatar as the opposition party can take satisfaction that it has managed to embarrass and corner the NDA government of prime minister Narender Modi over the meeting of Ved Pratap Vaidik, an unattached Hindi journalist, who had met Hafiz Sayeed, the alleged brain behind the November 26, 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.
Vaidik is perceived to be attached to right-wing organisations like Vivekanda Foundation, and by implication close to the RSS and the BJP. BJP leaders have been asserting that Vaidik is a maverick and he is not close to anyone in the BJP or even in the RSS though he claims to be close to everyone who is important on all sides. The BJP had even circulated an article written by Vaidik in Daink Bhaskar in October 2009 praising Rahul Gandhi to show that Vaidik was not a “parivar” man but a Gandu family hanger-on.
Minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha in response to members’ queries on Tuesday evening that she “condemned the meeting of Vaidik with Hafiz Sayeed”. The government made it appear that Vaidik’s meeting with the alleged terror accused was a private affair and there was no need for the government to express a view or to take a stand. But it was forced to yield ground under opposition fire.
In the morning, Swaraj told Lok Sabha that she can say “categorically” and “unequivocally” that the Indian state had nothing to do, even remotely, with Vaidik’s visit to Pakistan and his meeting with Sayeed. She said that Vaidik’s visit to Pakistan was private and his meeting with Sayeed was in his personal capacity.
When the news broke out on Monday, finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley asserted that there was no connection whatsoever between Vaidik and the government. On Tuesday morning described the Vaidik episode as “a diplomatic misadventure of a private individual where the Indian state has nothing to do with it.”
Leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad cited Vaidik’s views on “independent Kashmir” and reminded individuals and organisations who aired such views were imprisoned in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and wanted to know what action government would take against Vaidik. Jaitley responded saying, “I just tell you that such a person having his views has nothing to with either our Government or our party.”
Congress spokesperson Randeep Soorjwala said that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad was aware of the meeting between Vaidik and Sayeed, and felt that there was a cloud of suspicion surrounding it.
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