Jairam Ramesh apologises for remarks on Soni

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New Delhi, Sep 18 (UNI) A day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi reportedly pulled up Union Minister Jairam Ramesh for indulging in a public spat over Ram Sethu affidavit fiasco, Mr Ramesh has apologised to beleaguered Culture Minister Ambika Soni for his public statement demanding her resignation.

Congress sources said Mr Ramesh, who said in Kolkata on Saturday that she would have resigned had he been the Minister for Culture in place of Ms Soni, telephoned Ms Soni yesterday and told her that he had no personal agenda when he made the statement.

"I am sorry...We will continue to be friends," he told Ms Soni.

He also sent a note of regret to an upset Ms Soni who offered to resign when she was summoned by the Congress President to discuss the affidavit goof up on Saturday.

Party sources said Ms Gandhi had expressed her displeasure over the public expression of a private move by Mr Ramesh.

Mr Ramesh told Ms Soni that what he had said about her was a genuine expression of personal opinion in answer to a query at the Kolkata press meet.

Meanwhile, Party sources said Ms Soni, who had already sought an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to tell her side of the story, would be meeting him tomorrow.

She could not meet Dr Singh so far as he was recuperating after a surgery.

The Congress Party yesterday officially asked its ministers and leaders to refrain from airing their personal views on the Ram Sethu and Ms Soni's resignation issues.

Despite Mr Ramesh apologising to Ms Soni, the internal wrangles in the Congress over the Ram Sethu affidavit goof up appeared far from over today.

When asked about the apology of Mr Ramesh, Ms Soni, who has been keeping away from the media, today said "no comment." Meanwhile, Senior Congress leader R K Dhawan, who yesterday said that it would have been better had Ms Soni resigned owning moral responsibility, insisted today that he was "firm' in his stand.

He suggested to a television channel that there was no question of regretting his remarks as had been done by Mr Ramesh.

UNI

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