Congress makes another U-turn on Sonia's remarks against Modi

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New Delhi, Dec 10 (UNI) The Congress today said it would reply tomorrow to the Election Commission's show cause notice to its president Sonia Gandhi even as it maintained that the controversial ''merchants of death'' remarks was not directed at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

''We will give a point by point reply to the issues raised in the notice,'' AICC Spokesman Shakeel Ahmad told mediapersons, while claiming that Ms Gandhi had not violated the Model Code of Conduct during her election campaign at Navsari in Gujarat on December one.

Asked what would be the content of the reply, he said the press would come to know about it tomorrow.

When a reporter wanted to know if the ''merchants of death'' remark of Ms Gandhi was in reference to Mr Modi, the spokesman said "Ms Gandhi was addressing a huge gathering and she criticised the entire Gujarat government ....she mentioned the entire system. As head of the government, Chief Minister Narendra Modi should take responsibility for the failures of the dispensation.'' He did not agree with a questioner that his statement contradicted that of AICC Spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi who had admitted the other day that the ''merchants of death'' remark by Ms Gandhi was ''appopriate'' about Mr Modi and many were of the opinion that it was a mild form of description about the Gujarat Chief Minister.

It may be recalled that Mr Singhvi's statement contradicted that of Union Minister and AICC Spokesman Kapil Sibal who maintained that Ms Gandhi's remarks were not against Mr Modi, but only against the state government functionaries.

Asked why the three spokesmen of the Congress Party, including himself (Mr Ahmad), were reacting differently on the ''merchants of death'' remarks, Mr Ahmad said ''We are all saying the same thing.

But perceptions may be different.'' Asked if the EC notice to Ms Gandhi was to balance a similar notice issued earlier to Mr Modi for his statement on the killing of Sohrabuddin, he said ''it is for the Election Commission to reply.

But any equation with the statement of Ms Gandhi with that of Mr Modi is outrageous.'' In the notice to Ms Gandhi, the EC said yesterday, ''It has been brought to the notice of the Commission that you, in connection with the election campaign at Jamanpada, Chikhli (Navsari) on December 1, 2007, have made speech stating that 'during the rule of people who claim a Bhaya mukt Samaj, no body is safe. So many of my sisters, children and brothers have been exploited and are being exploited even now. Only criminals are safe; those who are getting protection from the government. The truth is that today, those running the Gujarat government are liars, betrayers and merchants of fear and death'.

Mr Ahmad said the party's feedback was that it would do better in two-phase Gujarat elections and Mr Modi was on his way out.

He said there was tremendous response of the electorate to the campaign rallies addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ms Gandhi and AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.


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