NEW DELHI: A major controversy erupted today over MPs writing to US President Barack Obama seeking denial of visa to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with some MPs denying having signed it.
Latching on to denials by CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, DMK MP K P Ramalingam and CPI MP M P Achutan, a BJP lawmaker wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar urging for a probe into alleged forgery of signatures. The party also accused the Congress' "dirty tricks department" of being behind it and demanded a probe.
Sudarshan Bhagat, BJP MP from Lohardaga, Jharkhand, today wrote a letter to the Speaker saying that some MPs have said they have not signed the letter to Obama.
"These are serious charges and amount to forgery. I have demanded that the Speaker should order an impartial inquiry and action should be taken against those responsible," he said.
Yechury, whose purported signature was appended to the letter by 25 Rajya Sabha members, today issued a statement denying having signed any letter to Obama. "I don't remember having signed any such letter… It suggests some cut and paste job," he said.
"I deny having signed any such letter. It is neither in my character nor in the principles of my party- the CPI(M)- to petition any sovereign country on matters that fall strictly within the sovereign domain of that country," he said in a statement here.
"It is this very principle that leads us to strongly oppose and denounce any external interference into India's internal affairs undermining its sovereignty," Yechury said.
Ramalingam, DMK MP, denied having signed any such letter. He said he always signed in Tamil. But he had no reply when it was told to him that his purported signature was in Tamil. Achutan, a Rajya Sabha member from Kerala, also denied writing to Obama. "To be frank, I don't remember writing to Obama," he said.
However, Mohammad Adeeb, Independent MP, who took the initiative for the campaign, denied Yechury's allegation. "Sitaram Yechury personally signed the letter in Rajya Sabha in front of me with his pen. I am ready to face any inquiry and any investigation into the matter," he said.
"Yechury should have contacted me and asked me what is the problem. Then he has gone to the media which is hurting…," Adeeb said.
Describing Yechury as one of the finest parliamentarians and a good human being, he said the CPI-M leader signed on the paper with the whole substance enclosed.
He maintained that for three-four days he had painstakingly done the job of collecting the signatures himself and hoped his Lok Sabha colleagues also did the same.
40 Lok Sabha and 25 Rajya Sabha MPs had reportedly signed the letter to the US President.
Yechury observed that much of this controversy has taken place in "cyberspace".
"The one circulating in cyberspace, now many months after it was allegedly signed, is typed on the letterhead of a Member of Parliament which carries the insignia of our national symbol, the Ashok Chakra.
"The heading under which some signatures are appended says, 'Names and Signatures of Indian MPs'. Strange. Which other country's MPs would sign on the letterhead of the Indian Parliament? This, itself, suggests some efforts at cut and paste," Yechury said.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh was dismissive of the whole issue. "It is for the US to decide. We have nothing to do with it," he said.
BJP, however, saw a Congress hand in the whole issue.
"The denial by some MPs of having written to Obama shows that this is a clear conspiracy of the dirty tricks department of the Congress. Some MPs have said their signatures were forged. There should be a thorough probe into the matter and the guilty should be booked," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
Another BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman charged that these leaders were making US a third umpire in the issue.
"External help to contain Shri Narendra Modi? These 65 MPs have failed to engage with him politically. Sponsored activists don't trust Indian courts. Seeking external assistance to prop up their unjust cause. A third umpire in the USA for an Indian political fight?" she said on Twitter.