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Three Ministers should go: Venkaiah

“They must own responsibility for Archaeological Survey of India affidavit in Ramar Sethu case”

HYDERABAD: The former BJP president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, on Sunday demanded the resignation of Union Ministers H.R. Bhardwaj, T.R. Baalu and Ambika Soni owning responsibility for the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on the Ramar Sethu issue.

He told a press conference that suspension of two ordinary officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was not enough and the Ministers could not escape their responsibility. They should be dropped from the Cabinet, if they did not resign.

The filing of the affidavit was a classic example of how the government dealt with a sensitive issue in a “senseless manner.”

Stir to continue

The BJP would continue its agitation over the issue till the government gave up its move to demolish Ramar Sethu and found an alternative alignment for the Sethusamudram shipping channel project.

Accusing the government of hurting the sentiment of millions of Hindus, he said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi should apologise to the people.

Mr. Naidu said that the image of the government had taken a severe beating over the manner in which the issues of Ramar Sethu, India-U.S. nuclear deal and wheat import were handled.

Due to the government’s mishandling, wheat was being imported at Rs.1,475 a quintal from the U.S., while the Indian farmer was being paid Rs. 850 a quintal.

National executive

He said the three-day BJP national executive meeting beginning in Bhopal on September 21 would chalk out a nation-wide campaign against the ‘anti-people policies’ of the government. Replying to a question, he said there were no differences within the BJP over the nuclear deal.

Ambika Soni offers to quit

New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

Union Culture Minister Ambika Soni met Ms. Gandhi on Saturday and offered to quit if the Prime Minister and Ms. Gandhi held her responsible for the controversial ASI affidavit filed in the Sethusamudram case.

Ms. Soni also spoke to the Prime Minister on telephone from Tokyo, and subsequently sent all the relevant documents to him.

According to Ms. Soni, the ASI had failed to carry out all the amendments suggested by her Ministry in the affidavit.

She had asked ASI Director-General A. Vaish to look into why this had not been done in the final affidavit.

Two director-level officials responsible for making those changes were placed under suspension on Friday.

What has taken her aides by surprise is the observation made by Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh that had he been in her place he would have resigned immediately.

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