Digvijay Expresses Surprise over Patil's Statement

New Delhi
Digvijay Expresses Surprise over Patil's Statement
Congress leader Digvijay Singh today expressed surprise over Maharashtra Home Minister's statement denying existence of any record of a telephonic conversation between him and slain ATS chief Hemant Karkare just before the 26/11 attacks.

"I was not expecting him to say that...," Digvijay said hours after R R Patil dismissed the Congress leader's statement that Karkare had spoken about threats from right-wing groups during a telephonic conversation with him hours before he was killed by Pakistani terrorists in the Mumbai attacks.

Digvijay said he was "unhappy" over the role the media and accused it of "hyping it up".

"I am unhappy the way media has played up the issue...I am not a liar," the Congress general secretary said.

Digvijay said that Mumbai police officer Rakesh Maria had spoken about telephone calls to Karkare in the morning while "I spoke to him in the evening".

Besides he recalled that Maria's role during 26/11 was questioned by Vinita Kamte, wife of slain Mumbai police officer Ashok Kamte.

Replying to questions, Digvijay did not specify whether he had called up Karkare on his mobile or his land-line phone.

In an embarrassment to Digvijay, Patil told the Maharashtra Assembly that there was no existence of any record of the purported conversation.

"It is his (Digvijay's) personal opinion. The state police machinery does not have any record of his conversation with Karkare on that fateful day," the state home minister said while making a suo motu statement in the House.

Digvijay, however, dismissed suggestions that Patil's party NCP, an ally of the Congress, was playing politics on the issue.

Reminded of his earlier statement that he had records of the conversation, Digvijay said, "I said I had records. I did not know that BSNL does not keep telephone records beyond a period of one year." The AICC leader said there were two persons-- a businessman and a security person-- with him when he was talking to Karkare while on his way to airport.

He asserted that he was not questioning the involvement of Pakistani terrorists in 26/11. Digvijay also dismissed the suggestions that his statements helped Pakistan.

On Karkare's wife Kavita attacking him for his statement, the Congress leader said, "I do not want to bring Kavita Karkare into controversy."

He brushed aside questions on whether his statements were made with an eye on Muslim votes in Assam and West Bengal, saying the two issues are "unrelated"

Maintaining that he will continue to fight against both Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists, he said he was the first Chief Minister who had demanded a ban on SIMI as also on Bajrang Dal. He claimed that BJP's Rajnath Singh had refused to ban SIMI in Uttar Pradesh when the latter was the Chief Minister.
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