Govt, Opposition try to take credit for Italy's U-turn

Last Updated 22 March 2013, 20:22 IST

The return of two Italian marines accused of killing fishermen on Friday evening to face trial sparked off credit-taking debate between the UPA and the Opposition, with the BJP praising the Supreme Court for taking a tough stand that led to the European country’s U-turn on the issue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, interestingly, did not indulge in any self-patting exercise and merely expressed happiness that the “integrity and dignity” of the Indian judicial process was upheld by the return of the marines, while External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid gloated over diplomatic initiatives of his ministry.

“I can certainly say we have been in constant contact. I have repeatedly said that you should not write off diplomacy too soon. So, at last I can say that diplomacy continues to work when everybody else thinks that everything is lost and please give diplomacy a little more chance to do things that are important for our country,” visibly relieved Khurshid said.  The MEA was at the forefront, he pointed out crediting his ministry for saving the country from humiliation.

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain also jumped into the fray. He said: “Today is the day of the rule of law in India. Italy is sending the two marines back. It is due to the strictness shown by the Supreme Court that the two marines who went back for Christmas and voting in the elections have been called back.

“Khurshid is taking credit for this. Mastermind of the Mumbai blasts Dawood Ibrahim is still in Pakistan. Why does he not bring them back? Even the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed is there. Government should bring them back.”

Earlier, the BJP had attacked the government, terming the marines’ refusal to come back as diplomatic collusion between the two countries. Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had tweeted: “It is not a case of diplomatic stand off. It is one of diplomatic send off.”

Appreciating Italy’s action, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said: “The Congress can garland itself if it wants, but the truth is that credit must be given to public pressure, the pressure created by parliament, international pressure, and also to the stand the Supreme Court took.” K N Balagopal, Kerala CPM Member of Parliament, also said it is victory of “the collective effort of the Indian people, Parliament and judiciary”.

But, Finance Minister P Chidambaram was not economical with words when he sarcastically remarked: “If the government’s diplomacy succeeds and BJP takes credit, I have no problem. But, ultimately it’s the government's diplomacy which has succeeded.”
“I find it difficult to accept that postures and positions taken by Opposition leaders could have contributed to this,” Khurshid said taking a dig at the BJP.

(Published 22 March 2013, 07:23 IST)

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