#Vaidik-Saeed Meet: Congress’ Another Booby Trap For The Government?

Interestingly, the trip to Pakistan on which Vaidik met with the founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba was coordinated by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, Indian Express reported.

It seems the Congress party is unable to digest its defeat in the Lok Sabha elections even after a month has passed. It tries to trap the ruling Bhartiya Janata party in the boobies created by its very own UPA government but fails miserably. In fact, the extensions of it do not even reach the Prime Minister’s Office but the party takes the opportunity to blame.

The Congress expressed outrage on Monday over scribe Dr Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting last month with 26/11 Mumbai blast accused Hafiz Saeed. The party disrupted the Parliament and accused the PMO of being “directly involved”.

Interestingly, the trip to Pakistan on which Vaidik met with the founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba was coordinated by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, Indian Express reported. Another senior Congress leader and former cabinet minister, Salman Khurshid, was also on the trip, along with several media personalities.

The report says that Vaidik and others travelled to Pakistan at the invitation of Regional Peace Institute, Islamabad, for an Indo-Pak bilateral dialogue – a Track 2 intiative. Aiyar is on the institute’s board of governors.

Agreeing to the reports, Khurshid clarified: “Ours was a very short trip of just three days including travel time, and there was a two-week gap between the conference and the meeting (with Hafiz Saeed). Mr Vaidik stayed back, and I am told he met the prime minister and others.”

The IE quoted Aiyar who apparently said in a text message: “He (Vaidik) was with me at the invitation of the Regional Peace Institute Islamabad.”

But in Parliament, Congress MPs created an uproar over “Baba Ramdev’s aide” Vaidik, a journalist “close to the RSS”, meeting “India’s most wanted terrorist” as an “intermediary”, and demanded an explanation from the government.

The Rajya Sabha saw two adjournments during Question Hour amid demands of a detailed statement on the “purpose and motive behind the meeting”, whether Vaidik had sought the government’s permission beforehand, and who had facilitated it.

However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that for India, Saeed was a terrorist, the government had nothing to do “directly, indirectly or even remotely” with any journalist meeting him, and that the “government has not sanctioned permission to anyone for meeting him (Saeed)”.

In Lok Sabha, the Congress’s K C Venugopal, RSP’s N K Premachandran and IUML’s E Ahamed raised the matter. Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia exhorted the Chair to extract a reply from the government, but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said, “You can’t compel the government to make a statement.”

Later, party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed drew another angle insinuating that Vaidik met Saeed at the behest of PMO.

“Vaidik belonged to the same organisation Vivekananda International Foundation, whose three members Nripendra Misra, PK Mishra and Ajit Doval are working for the Modi government as Principal Secretary, Additional Principal Secretary in PMO and as National Security Adviser,” Ahmed was reported saying.

“Now the fourth person, who also worked in the Foundation, Vaidik, has met the most wanted terrorist in India, who is an accused in Mumbai terror strikes. A serious question arises. Did he go to meet Hafiz Saeed at the instruction of the Prime Minister? The Prime Minister and the government must come clean on it,” he further added.

The BJP and RSS, inside and outside Parliament, have disapproved of Vaidik’s move. RSS leader and the BJP’s joint general secretary (Organisation), V Satish, tweeted, “Nothing can be convincing meeting Terrorist mastermind Hafiz Saeed and that too by Vedpratap Vaidik… Shaking hands with the terrorist cannot be justified. You let us down Vaidikji…”

Vaidik himself has not appeared convincing on the issue. First he talked about the visit being a personal one, then wanted people to admire his guts for keeping himself in such a dangerous position and still come out alive after meeting a terrorist.

“Journalists in Pakistan know me for decades. They made a gesture (about meeting Saeed) to me and I said all right I will meet him. It was no big deal for me. It was a simple thing. For me it was like a normal meeting. I have been meeting the Maoists of Nepal, Taliban of Afghanistan… If they raise the issue in Parliament, it is good as they will publicise me against my will. But nothing will come out of it,” Vaidik gave another explanation.

While the government must reprimand Vaidik and ask for an explanation for his stray conduct, it also needs to keep its eyes and ears open. It has already minor burn marks due to its ‘so called’ sympathisers who wanted PM Narendra Modi and BJP to fail miserably and readily became a bait used by Congress party.

In addition to that, Aiyar and Khurshid also be questioned. Congress is out for blood. And it must be provided no window for the same.

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