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Delhi: At Congress event, Sajjan Kumar and Tytler asked to stay off the stage

Hundreds of workers from zonal to district levels, including councillors and senior workers, had started pouring in from 10 am to participate in the fast, which lasted around three hours.

At the ‘Sadhbhawna Upwas’ in Rajghat on Monday. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The Congress’ day-long fast against caste violence, communalism and non-functioning of Parliament ran into controversy at Rajghat Monday after 1984 anti-Sikh riots accused Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were asked to stay away from the stage.

Sources in the Delhi Congress said unit chief Ajay Maken had asked Tytler to leave the stage, where party president Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders were meant to sit. Kumar was also told that he shouldn’t sit on the stage, sources said.

Sources said Tytler and Kumar were asked to stay away from the stage as their presence at the ‘Sadhbhawna Upwas’ (fast for harmony) could send a wrong signal. While Kumar left the venue soon afterwards, Tytler stayed till the fast ended.

Rahul sat for around three hours at Rajghat, joined by senior leaders such as Maken, Sheila Dikshit, Kamal Nath, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ashok Gehlot, Arvinder Singh Lovely, Haroon Yusuf and Randeep Surjewala. When contacted, Maken said, “Tytler’s name was not among the guests who had to sit on stage. Former and present DPCC presidents, present and former ministers, AICC officer bearers and senior leaders from minority communities were invited.”
Asked to comment on Tytler and Kumar being asked to leave, he said, “These are non-issues. More than 5,000 people gathered to make the government realise that they are not serious about the welfare of Dalit and minority communities. During the Congress’ rule, people of different religions lived in harmony and peace, which is not the case now.”

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Tytler, when asked about the incident, said, “It is not true, I sat on the stage for a while and then went to interact with Congress workers.” Kumar did not respond to calls and messages. BJP-SAD leader Manjinder Sirsa said the incident reflected the party’s “double standards”: “On the one hand, they don’t want to share the stage with them, and on the other hand, they have not been removed from the party.”

Hundreds of workers from zonal to district levels, including councillors and senior workers, had started pouring in from 10 am to participate in the fast, which lasted around three hours. While senior leaders arrived by 11 am, Rahul came around 1 pm. The Congress said that as a result of non-functioning of Parliament, it was not able to debate issues such as the PNB scam, CBSE paper leak, alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act, special status to Andhra Pradesh and setting up of the Cauvery management board.

“This is a fight for ideology and values which India represents. We won’t allow politics of hatred and division aimed at garnering votes to succeed,” Surjewala said.

First published on: 10-04-2018 at 02:03 IST
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