"Dekhte hain kya ho sakta hai", was the considered and well thought out reaction of All India Congress Committee general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi when asked whether there was any move by the Congress leadership to change the candidature of Jagdish Tytler, who has been given a clean chit by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, much to the anger and distress of the Sikh community.
Well placed sources in the party state that both Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler are likely to face the axe and would no longer be the party's Lok Sabha candidates for the coming polls, even though their names have been officially announced from South Delhi and North East Delhi constituencies respectively. While the damage control exercise of the party is focused on minimizing the anger against Tytler, sources say that if Tytler is changed, the focus would shift to Sajjan Kumar and unless both are changed, the move would have little or no impact in dousing the Sikh rage which is also being fuelled by political parties opposed to the Congress.
The rethinking began after a huge reaction from the Sikhs in the aftermath of the clean chit to Tytler with Sikh delegations protesting, Congress leaders are worried about an adverse reaction from Punjab, Haryana and even pockets of Rajasthan. But the piece de resistance was the high drama at noon at the AICC headquarters when a Sikh journalist Jarnail Singh hurled a shoe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in what the minister called an emotional reaction on the issue of the CBI clean chit to Jagdish Tytler.
Congress leaders say that the incident which was covered live by television channels and beamed nationally and internationally has hit the Congress hard even though the party is working overtime to put a brave face on it.
P Chidambaram has refused to entertain any action against the journalist, party spokesmen are at pains to point out that
he acted and reacted on the spur of the moment, under emotional outrage and should be forgiven.
The party obviously does not want to put too fine a point on it, considering it's the middle of election season and the Sikh wounds have once again been re-opened with the clean chit. But the real worry of the Congress is that the pandora's box of Sikh reactions has opened up and its "like revisiting 1984", said a Sikh leader of the Congress party.
He said that what has happened is that there is now an attempt to say that no one killed the over 4000 sikhs who died in the riots, why there has been no justice even after 25 years and that a party like the Congress talks of secularism and justice but has done little in terms of action on the ground.
Even as the entire Congress party is bemoaning the fact that the timing of the CBI clean chit is all wrong and has damaged the party in no uncertain terms, some leaders sense in it a conspiracy to damage the Congress and split the issue of Sikh anger wide open. A senior minister of the Manmohan Singh government, however was at pains to
point out that the CBI is an independent and autonomous body which works under the superintendence of the Central Vigilance Commission while the prime minister is the administrative head of the agency.
The minister said that it is the CVC which does the day to day monitoring the CBI and even the "files do not come to the minister or the prime minister", he said. He said if the CBI has reached a conclusion, it is free to take its decision and the government does not direct it on any issue.
But there are not too many takers for this line of thinking even in the Congress party. Most party leaders smell a huge rat while even the charitable ones say that the ministers at the helm of affairs bungled up on the whole issue. Sources say that Jagdish Tytler was desperate to get a clean chit for two reasons. The first was that he was repeatedly being told by so-called "well wishers" in the party that he would be dropped if the CBI brought in a chargesheet against him and
second, he was desperate to become a minister and felt that unless he got a clean chit, there was no way that he could be sworn in, particularly if Manmohan Singh were to return as the prime minister.
It was Manmohan Singh who had announced on the floor of Parliament that justice would be given to the victims of the anti-sikh riots and it was at his insistence that Tytler had had to resign from his government. Sources in the Congress state that the prime minister was not happy with the party renominating both Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amrinder Singh is reported to have informed the party leadership that the Congress was all set to sweep Punjab with the Akalis fighting with their back to the wall, minus any issue against the Congress but the Tytler clean chit, he said had given the Akalis a huge campaign point to distract attention from the "abysmal performance of their government in Punjab".