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PM holds meeting with senior ministers

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held a meeting with senior ministerial colleagues here, hours after the Supreme Court ordered restoring of criminal conspiracy charge against top BJP leaders L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu were among those who attended the meeting, sources said.

The political situation in the country was understood to have been discussed at the meeting, the sources said but did not specify the issues.

The meeting took place hours after the Apex Court allowed the CBI plea to restore the criminal conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi and Bharti in the 1992 Babri demolition case.

The top court also clubbed the trial in the matter pending against the leaders and ‘karsevaks’ and ordered day- to-day trial with the proceedings to be completed in two years.

“We have allowed the CBI appeal against the Allahabad High Court judgement with certain directions,” a bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said.

After the ruling, opposition demanded Bharti’s resignation from the Cabinet but she refused to step down.

Jaitley also virtually ruled out Bharti’s resignation and described as “hypothetical” the possibility of the SC ruling having any bearing in selection of candidates for presidential and vice presidential polls.

“This case is going on since 1993. Somehow it is going on and no new situation has arisen. So the situation which was prevailing will continue,” Jaitley told reporters.

He was asked whether the ruling would mean resignation of Bharti, the Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, from the Union Cabinet and Kalyan Singh as Rajasthan Governor.

Asked whether Singh and Bharti should resign following the charge sheet in the case, Jaitley shot back, saying if that is the criteria then some of the current Congress Chief Ministers will have to quit.

“There have been ministers, there have been deputy prime ministers… If charge sheet is the rule (to resign), then just calculate, how many Congress chief ministers will (have to go),” he said.

When asked whether today’s apex court ruling will impact selection of candidates for the posts of president and vice president, Jaitley merely said “it is hypothetical.”

While the term of President Pranab Mukherjee is coming to an end on July 24, the term of Vice President Hamid Ansari ends on August 10.

There has been speculation that Advani and Joshi, both BJP veterans, could be considered as possible candidates for the two top constitutional posts. But there has been no official word so far from the ruling NDA in this regard.

—PTI

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