Smriti Irani drama: Slams Modi first, withdraws statement hours later

Smriti Irani drama: Slams Modi first, withdraws statement hours later
Surat/Mumbai, Dec 12 (PTI) Hours after an embarrassing attack on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi demanding his resignation over the Gujarat riots, television actress and BJP newcomer Smruti Irani today withdrew her statement after the party made it clear that she either retract or face action.

In an unexpected attack on Modi, Irani, who joined the party to contest the Lok Sabha elections unsuccessfully from Delhi's Chandni Chowk, told reporters in Surat that she would start a 'fast-unto-death' agitation if he does not step down.

Significantly taking Atal Bihari Vajpayee's name repeatedly, she said Modi's decision not to be step down was "extremely shocking and appalling". She said her fast agitation would start on the birthday of Vajpayee, December 25, to redeem his name.

Caught off guard, the party conveyed to her that it was extremely upset with her statement and made it clear that she either retract her statement or face disciplinary action.

Once back in Mumbai, she spoke to party president L K Advani over phone and had a meeting with Maharashtra BJP President Gopinath Munde before issuing a statement withdrawing the remarks "unconditionally".

"This afternoon, I had gone to Surat where I made a statement relating to Gujarat Chief Minister. I realised later that as a responsible member of the party I should not have done this. I therefore unconditionally withdraw my statement," her terse statement issued late in the night said.

"Nobody in the country would deny the fact that Vajpayee and L K Advani have selflessly served the country for last 50 years and for them to be blamed and pointed out just because Narendrabhai would not leave the seat was something extremely shocking, appalling, quite hurtful honestly," Irani said. Asked if she took permission from Party President Advani or Vajpayee in this regard, she shot back "why seek permission for saying the truth? Why one needs permission to speak what one feels very honestly?" She said it was her personal decision to demand Modi's resignation. "At the end of the day if we show mirror to our own family (party), there is nothing wrong in correcting our own mistakes".

Terming BJP as a movement of karyakartas (workers), she said the party was made of hard work of millions of workers across the country, who suffered humiliation and defeat but still kept on working.

"Why do we forget that the party is made of all those members who make leaders. Leaders are expected to stand up to the truth. Leaders are expected to project that we are still sticking to our ideology that we are a secular party.. A party with a difference," she said.

Reminded of the Uma Bharti episode and discpline in the party, Irani said she was following party discipline "I am not instigating people to revolt. I am going on a fast on to death...I am taking the onus on myself".

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