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'Don't utter a word on the joint statement'

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
July 22, 2009 22:13 IST
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Worried by the growing dissent within the party over Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's joint statement after meeting his Pakistani counterpart Gilani in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Congress president Mrs Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday directed the party spokespersons not to say even a single word on the subject.

Gandhi felt that it should be left to the PM to reply to the structured debate in both the houses of the Parliament when it comes up for discussion.

In this connection Gandhi summoned Ahmed Patel and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the afternoon to pass on the instructions on behalf of the party.

Many senior leaders were upset at the mention of Balochistan in the joint statement, as it amounts to giving the impression as if India was involved in the Balochitan crisis, and Pakistan has been going around saying that they have achieved a milestone.

Senior Congress leaders were on the defensive after Bharatiya Janata Party staged a walk out and decided to go in for a structured debate to 'expose' Singh.

It happens because external affairs ministry does not give the bureaucrats enough space to draft joint statements or draft agreements.

"What you hear is nothing but cock and bull story. No instructions have been issued to anyone. What Prime minister Dr Singh has said needs to be honoured and it will hold," said a senior journalist close to the finance minister.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi