Jairam denies saying Rahul should apologise

Jairam Ramesh

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh denied on Sunday having said that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi should apologise for saying during a poll rally last month that agents of Pakistani spy agency ISI were in touch with victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots.

CNN-IBN had shown Ramesh as saying during an interaction with senior Urdu journalists at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi on Saturday: "He (Rahul) did not raise any question on the community. But I agree the statement should not have come out the way it did. I cannot say what Rahul Gandhiji will do or say. But if you say he should himself clarify, and himself apologise, I agree with you."

When the journalists said Rahul's remarks had hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community, he said the Congress vice-president's intention was not to hurt or malign any community.

On Sunday, Ramesh claimed the media "twisted" his comments. "I never said he (Rahul Gandhi) should apologise. You (the media) twisted it," he said during a press interaction in Raipur.

Meanwhile, the Congress distanced itself from Ramesh's comments. Spokesperson Meem Afzal said Rahul had already clarified his statement to the Election Commission (EC) and the party had also spoken on the issue. The EC had reprimanded Rahul for the comments, taking exception to his "tone, tenor and content".

"I do not know what Jairam Ramesh has said. But whatever he might have said may be his personal view. This is not the view of the party," Afzal said.

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