New Delhi:  Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, facing a political storm over Suryanelli rape case that has returned to haunt him, on Thursday met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and explained his position.
    
There was speculation that Kurien has been asked to put in his papers but sources close to him claimed that there was no such move at the moment.
    
A section in the party especially from Kerala Congress, however, feel that with new revelations coming in, his continuance as Deputy Chairman of the Upper House is increasingly becoming untenable.
    
Kurien refused to divulge what was discussed in his about 20-minute-long meeting with Gandhi.
    
"I will not comment. I will not divulge what was discussed in my meeting with the Congress President. This is not for media," Kurien said when asked whether there is a possibility of his resigning from the post of Deputy Chairman of the Upper House.
    
Kurien had on Wednesday met the Chairman of Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari over the issue.
    
His meetings with Gandhi and Ansari came days after he had sent them a note explaining how he is being targeted under a "political conspiracy" even after being "exonerated" by the due process of law.
    
He had on Wednesday rejected demands for his resignation saying the controversy is a conspiracy by his political adversaries.
    
Brushing aside the new twists and turns in the case, he had said "there is nothing new in the so-called revelations. It is the same allegations, which the courts had then inquired into and found it humanly impossible."
    
"There is no need for that. I have been cleared unequivocally by all courts, by the due process of law. Can anybody resign because some convict is making allegations," he said, he had said when asked whether he would resign.
    
The girl from Suryanelli in Idukki district was abducted in January 1996 and transported from place to place across Kerala and sexually exploited by different persons.
    
The victim had sent a letter to the Supreme Court last week, seeking a review of the Apex Court's order quashing all charges against Kurien.

Kurien's meeting with Gandhi also came against the backdrop of conflicting statements on the possibility of his resignation by some party leaders.
    
Congress spokesperson P C Chacko, considered to be not on very good terms with Kurien, had a few days back, said in Kerala that the party will take a decision on the demand for removal of Kurien from the particular post before the Budget Session of Parliament.
    
However, the party distanced itself from his remarks the next day with another party spokesperson Sandip Dikshit, saying from the AICC's official podium "whatever Chacko has said is his personal opinion".
    
Chacko on Wednesday tried to parry questions on Kurien issue but when persisted said, "what I have said in Kerala is related to Kerala. Our party position has been explained by my colleague Sandip Dikshit. It has been very clearly spelt out by him."
    
Rubbishing the controversy, Kurien asked why the lone convict, Dharmarajan, who alleged that the Congress leader was also involved in it, did not make these claims before any of the three police investigations.
    
"A conspiracy is being hatched against me by some CPI-M activists and some of those, who want to oust me from my present position and they are approaching the accused in the main Suryanelli case and pressuring them to retract their earlier statements...they are trying to tarnish my name and create a cloud of suspicion," he had said in a statement.

Kurien should quit: BJP

Despite P J Kurien's claim that Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley is convinced of his innocence in the Suryanelli rape case, BJP said its stand on the issue is clear and the party sticks to its demand that the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House step down.

Asked about Kurien's comments that Jaitley had fought his case as a lawyer in the Supreme Court and will never say he is guilty, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, "BJP has asked for Kurien's resignation."

She insisted that the fact that BJP is demanding Kurien's resignation explains the party's official stand on the matter and there should be no confusion on the issue.

Incidentally, when the Suryanelli case was revived again this month, BJP initially maintained that law should take its own course.

The party finally took a harsher stand—apparently under pressure from the BJP Kerala unit and the position taken by the Left parties--and demanded that Kurien step down on "moral grounds". BJP has never pronounced Kurien as guilty.

"Arun Jaitley appeared for me in the court... Jaitley will never say I am guilty because he is absolutely convinced about my innocence," Kurien said, but clarified that he has not spoken to Jaitley about the case in recent times.

BJP is abuzz about an embarassing situation emerging in the Rajya Sabha if Kurien's resignation demand comes up for discussion as some member may raise the issue of Jaitley having fought his case.

BJP leaders have, however, emphasised that Jaitley had appeared as a counsel for Kurien when he was fighting a defamation case in the matter. He had then not been named in the Suryanelli rape case chargesheet as an accused. Moreover, Jaitley was the counsel in 2006 and since then new facts have come to light in the case.

The party has also maintained that as a practicing lawyer in 2006, Jaitley was free to take up any case and this cannot be held against him.

(Agencies)

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