Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi: A day after Congress leader from Kerala, PC Chacko, said that the party would formulate its stand on the demand for removal of PJ Kurien as the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman before the Budget Session of Parliament commences, the party on Monday distanced itself from the statement saying the decision would be taken by court hearing the Suryanelli gangrape case. Since Kurien's name figured in the case, demand for his sacking has been growing in Kerala.
"We will be taking decision on all issues, including this, before Parliament session begins (on February 21). The high command will not be closing its eyes to any issue coming before the party," Chacko had said in Thrissur on Sunday. "We are alert to every issue agitating the society and our spokesman has already said the high command will discuss and take an appropriate decision on this matter," he had added.
Reacting to it, Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit on Monday said "the party would go by what court and the state government would decide". Kurien, however, has maintained that he was "clean" and would not step down. He has claimed that "the girl was being used by political opponents to settle political scores' with him.
Adding to Kurien's trouble, the third accused in the case - SS Dharmarajan - made a revelation on a local television channel that he had taken the Congress MP in his own car to Kumili, where the girl was kept in confinement and was raped. He claimed that the police did not record Kurien's name despite him telling them and that the then investigation officer Sibi Matthews asked him not to take Kurien's name. He also claimed that Kurien had been kept away from the identification parade. Dharamarajan had been serving jail term after being convicted in the case. However, he jumped parole and is absconding now. He spoke to the television channel from an undisclosed location in Mysore.
Listening to the revelation made by Dharmarajan, the girl's father said: "God has intervened for me, that's why Dharmarajan has made this statement. But regardless of that, all that I want is justice for my daughter. Yes, the statements that have been made about PJ Kurien have definitely strengthened this case."
Meanwhile, the controversial comments made by former Kerala High Court Judge R Basant about Suryanelli
gangrape case on Monday echoed in the state Assembly with the government rejecting the LDF demand for registering a criminal case against him following which the Opposition staged a walkout.
Basant, one of the judges who acquitted 35 accused in the Suryanelli case in 2005, had said on Saturday that "there was ample evidence to show the girl was used for child prostitution, which is not rape", sparking protests across the state. The controversy surfaced at a time when the Left and women's organisations have been demanding the removal of Kurien, after the victim recently wanted her
lawyer to explore possibility of seeking a fresh probe against the Congress leader.
(With additional information from PTI)