Rajasthan minister told to quit for remarks on president

Thursday, February 10, 2011

JAIPUR - Rajasthan minister Amin Khan, who remarked that Pratibha Patil was made president for having cooked in late former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s kitchen, has been asked to resign.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot late Wednesday summoned the panchayati raj minister, who was at the temple town of Nathdwara near Udaipur, and asked him to submit his resignation.

“The minister’s statement was utterly irresponsible and unfortunate. As soon as I came to know about it, I spoke to the president…,” Gehlot told reporters.

“I also sought an explanation from the minister. No one has a right to talk like this,” he added.

The chief minister had earlier in the day flown to Delhi and presented details to the Congress high command. It was decided that the minister’s resignation be sought.

Defending himself, Khan had said earlier that even though Patil cooked for Indira Gandhi when she was not the prime minister, he did not mean to insult her.

He insisted that he had been misquoted.

“I was misquoted. What I meant was that Patil was an ordinary worker of the party. And because she was a loyal and disciplined worker, she got an opportunity to become the president,” the minister said.

“When they (Indira Gandhi and Patil) used to live together, they used to cook food and prepare tea. I did not mean any disrespect to her (Patil),” he said.

“I was asking party workers to be patient and serve the party without making any demands. Patil is an example for everyone to follow,” Khan said.

On Tuesday, the minister told a meeting of the Pali district Congress committee that Patil was rewarded with the presidency for having cooked as well as preparing tea in Indira Gandhi’s kitchen after she lost power in the 1977 election.

“Finally, she was rewarded with the country’s top position by (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi though Patil did not seek any position. She was rewarded for her loyalty to the former prime minister,” he was quoted as saying.

Leaders of both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have come out strongly against Khan’s statement.

“The minister should not have spoken like this…No one can question Patil’s credentials,” Congress legislator Pratap Singh Khachriyawas said.

BJP leader and former minister Rajendra Singh Rathore said: “Such derogatory remarks are not proper. Gehlot should remove him from his cabinet.”

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