Cong asks leaders to put lid on Ram Sethu affidavit controversy

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New Delhi, Sep 17 (UNI) Embarrassed by the public spat its ministers at the Centre indulged in over the Ram Sethu affidavit fiasco, the Congress today asked its leaders to refrain from airing their views in public.

In fact, the Congress sought to downplay the demand for the resignation of Union Culture Minister Ambika Soni by her junior cabinet colleague Jairam Ramesh and senior party leader R K Dhawan owning moral responsibility for the filing of the controversial affidavit before the Supreme Court by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on September 12 questioning the very existence of Lord Rama and the Ram Sethu.

''It is but natural, the less different persons speak, the better,'' AICC Spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi told mediapersons, without giving any answer to questions on whether the party contemplates any action againt Ms Soni for the affidavit fiasco or against Mr Ramesh for his open criticism of his senior colleague.

''The Congress is a large democratic party...The views expressed are personal in nature...What you have heard is a spectrum of shades of personal views which is not surprising in the vibrancy of democratic culture of a democratic party,'' he said.

Pointing out that the government had acted swiftly by withdrawing the controversial portions of the affidavit on the Ram Sethu issue, he said the ''main issue stands settled''.

''The stand of the government is clear and there is no scope for further speaking,'' he said, sending a clear message to the party leaders and ministers asking them to refrain from airing views in public.

Asked to clarify the general impression that Mr Dhawan and Mr Ramesh reflected the viewpoints of the Party High Command, Dr Singhvi said: ''I don't clarify impressions.'' MORE UNI

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