Verma terms his remarks 'slip of tongue'

After the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday issued notice to the Congress Union minister Beni Prasad Verma over his controversial remarks in a recent meeting saying that the Congress was committed to providing “enhanced reservation” to the backward Muslims, Verma swallowed his own words and attempted to wriggle out of the raging controversy by terming his remarks a mere “slip of tongue”.

Defending his statement, Verma said, “I keep saying a lot of things during the election rallies. I do not recall everything. It could have been a slip of tongue. I have great respect for the EC.”

While addressing an election meeting at Farrukhabad from where Union minister Salman Khurshid’s wife Loius is contesting, on Wednesday last, he had said that his party was committed to providing “enhanced reservation” to the backward Muslims if it forms a government in the state.

He had said that the Muslims were still backward and had not been given their due. Verma had also said that he was not bothered about the possible action the Election Commission could take against him for his utterances, which amount to violation of the model code of conduct. “The EC can issue me a notice if it wants,” he had said.

The EC had examined the speech of the minister before issuing him a notice. Earlier, Khurshid had also made a similar statement over “reservation” to the muslim community. The EC had taken strong exception to it then and had written to President Pratibha Patil seeking action against the Union law minister. The matter was closed after the minister expressed regret over the issue.

Meanwhile, taking on the party over the issue, BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the Congress ministers have been “deliberately speaking on Muslim reservation.”
He alleged that it was a part of a strategy of the Congress to woo the Muslims in the state.

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