BJP rejects Kurienís Jaitley alibi, says quit

DISMISSING Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson P J Kurien's claim that Arun Jaitley was convinced of his innocence, the BJP Thursday re-iterated its demand for his resignation.

"BJP has asked his resignation. Let him say whatever he has to say. The party has taken a position that he will have to resign," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Kurien had claimed, in an interview to The Indian Express, that the senior BJP leader was "convinced about my innocence". "When the high court discharged me, the LDF government in Kerala appealed in the Supreme Court. Arun Jaitley appeared for me in the court, which upheld the HC order. He knows I am innocent. Jaitley will never say I am guilty because he is absolutely convinced about my innocence," Kurien had claimed.

BJP leaders, however, saw these comments as an attempt by Kurien to ease the pressure on him to resign in the wake of fresh allegations of his involvement in the Suryanelli gangrape case. The leaders admitted that Jaitley was Kurien's counsel in the Supreme Court but sought to stress that he had represented him in a defamation case and not the rape case as such.

Kurien, meanwhile, met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and explained his position. There was speculation that Kurien had been told to put in his papers but sources close to him claimed that there was no such move at the moment. Some in the Congress feel that in the wake of fresh allegations, his continuance as deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha had become untenable.

Kurien refused to divulge what transpired in his meeting with Sonia. "I will not divulge what was discussed. This is not for the media," he said.

Kurien plays down Jaitley remark

With BJP sticking to its demand that the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House step down, P J Kurien on Thursday sought to play down his remarks regarding Arun Jaitley, stressing that his interaction on related issue in the past was solely a "client-lawyer" relation. "Jaitley was my lawyer and it was as such a client-lawyer relationship. He would be aware of the facts of the case as my advocate," he said.

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