Beni Prasad says sorry for remark against Mulayam Yadav

Beni Prasad Verma

Ticked off by the Congress leadership, Union minister Beni Prasad Verma today regretted his remarks against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who demanded his resignation during meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Sonia Gandhi pleads with Mulayam to spare Beni Prasad

"I have not given any interview saying he (Yadav) extends support (to the government) after taking Commission. But, if anybody's sentiments are hurt by such remarks, I express my regret," Verma said after meeting the Prime Minister, who is learnt to have read him the riot act for angering the 21-member SP whose support is crucial for the government in the wake of DMK pullout.

But, Yadav did not appear to be satisfied with the regret expressed by Verma and said the SP Parliamentary Board will meet tomorrow morning to take a call on the issue.

"There is a difference between regret and apology," SP leader Shailendra Kumar said after Yadav met the Prime Minister.

Between adjournments in the Lok Sabha, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde met Yadav separately and are understood to have conveyed to him that the Congress strongly disapproved of Verma's remarks.

In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said Verma had tarnished the image of the SP chief who was "a respected leader of the House. He should either prove his charges or apologise."

Swaraj said after making such "disparaging remarks," Verma had "no right to continue in office. She said the BJP and SP may have political differences, but "this is a matter of privilege of the House."

Gandhi, who was present in the House and was watching the new bonhomie between SP, an outside supporter of the UPA, and BJP, walked upto Yadav's seat soon after Lok Sabha was adjourned around noon. Though she was not audible to reporters in the press gallery, Gandhi was seen talking to Yadav with folded hands.

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