BJP leaders lash out at Govt, skip lunch with PM
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Top BJP leadership today refused to lunch with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, angered by CBI summons to a Gujarat Minister regarded as very close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Hours before the lunch to be hosted by Singh for party president Nitin Gadkari, senior leader L K Advani and Leaders of Opposition in both Houses of Parliament Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, the party called it off.
Advani, who was to go along with the other three for the lunch ahead of the Parliament session beginning Monday, called Leader of House in Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee and expressed his inability to attend the lunch. Later the PMO was also intimated.
The four leaders, who had accepted the lunch invitation, met last evening and decided that they would not honour it since the "environment was not cordial", Swaraj told a pressconference today after a meeting of leaders at Advani's residence.
The atmosphere had become so vitiated that it would not appear well to go and have lunch with him, she said.
Swaraj and Jaitley lashed out at the government accusing it of "unashamedly misusing" CBI for political purposes. They said the entire investigation in the Sohrabuddin encounter killing case, in which Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah has been summoned, was "motivated with a political agenda in mind and was concocted".
Swaraj said the top leadership at its meeting yesterday felt this was a "fresh case" of government misusing the CBI and it would not be "appropriate and proper" if they attended the lunch.
"In this vitiated atmosphere it would not be proper to attend the lunch meeting," Swaraj said.
In reply to a question, she said BJP was keen on having a dialogue with the government on important issues but this particular case was different.
"You see the timing (of the lunch meeting). Can we be having lunch while our Home Minister is being grilled by the CBI," she said, adding that initially BJP had accepted the invitation as it wanted to "reciprocate" the government's initiative for a discussion ahead of the Parliament session.