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Apr 10, 2009 at 07:47am IST

Congress retreats, drops Tytler and Sajjan

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday announced Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, accused of involvement in the 1984 Sikh riots, are withdrawing from Lok Sabha elections in Delhi.

The two leaders have opted out of elections keeping the party’s interests in mind, announced Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi.

Dwivedi said the party had decided that "they will not be Lok Sabha candidates" from Delhi in the general elections starting on April 16.

SIGN OUT: Congress leader Jagdish Tytler reacts as he holds a press conference in New Delhi.

Dwivedi announced the Congress will shortly announce replacements for Kumar and Tytler, party candidates in Northwest Delhi and South Delhi.

"Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar have expressed their sentiments that they do not wish to embarrass the party by contesting Lok Sabha elections when some political parties and individuals have tried to vitiate the atmosphere. They have opted out of Lok Sabha elections.

"The party has accepted their feelings and decided that they will not be Lok Sabha candidates of the Indian National Congress," said Dwivedi.

The announcement came after days of Sikh protests in New Delhi and Punjab against the two politicians’ candidature. The protests gained momentum after a Sikh journalist threw a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday to protest against the CBI giving a clean chit to Tytler.

Tytler had already told a press conference earlier in the day he was withdrawing from elections. "I don't think I should fight (the election)," said Tytler adding that he did not want to cause "embarrassment" to the party.

Tytler and Kumar have denied involvement in the killings of Sikhs after then prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.

Meanwhile, the BJP claimed the Congress was trying to delay a court verdict to save Tytler.

"Congress has a history of using the CBI for political benefits and purposes. How can he (Tytler) be given a clean chit? I hope the Election Commission will act in the same manner as it did in Varun Gandhi's case. I hope the Election Commission will advise the UPA Government and Lalu Prasad in the same way it advised the BJP," said BJP leader Arun Jaitely.

BJP Spokesperson Prakash Javdekar added that Congress' communal politics had recoiled against the party.

"Congress has been fully exposed and it is paying a price for its communal politics and the misuse of CBI. The people will punish them and they will pay a heavy price in the coming elections," he said.

The counsel for the '84 riots victims, H S Phoolka, said the Congress was to blame for giving tickets to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar at a time when cases were pending against them.

"It's now a moral issue. If they are convicted, of course, they cannot contest. The fact is Congress has been thwarting justice for the last 25 years. That Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were given tickets during elections when cases are pending against them shows Congress is trying to influence the CBI. Laws should be put into action," Phoolka stated.

In the meantime, Congress' candidate from South Delhi Sajjan Kumar says he will do whatever his party tells him to do.

"I am a soldier of the Congress party. I have always done and will do what my party asks me to do."

The journalist who threw a shoe at P Chidambaram in protest had the last word. Jarnail Singh said that good sense is finally prevailing in Congress and that the culprits should be brought to book.

"If this decision can heal Sikhs, then it's good," said Jarnail Singh.

(With inputs from agencies)