Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma, in the line of fire for his remarks against Mulayam Singh Yadav, apologised after a short meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.
Parliament was disrupted today as the Samajwadi Pary sought the resignation of Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, while DMK and AIADMK members raised the Sri Lankan issue
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj also batted for Mulayam, saying Verma has tarnished the image of the SP chief who is "a respected leader of the house. He should either prove his charges or apologise."
Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly told Mulayam that Verma's views were personal and did not reflect the opinion of the Congress party.
The Samajwadi Party made a demand that either he should quit, or the Congress should sack him.
Finally he apologises
"I am sorry if my remarks have hurt any body's sentiments," Verma told reporters after his brief meeting with Singh.
Verma, at a public rally in Uttar Pradesh last week, had made certain remarks against Yadav seeking to portray the latter in poor light.
Later, he had said he stood by his statement that Yadav allegedly had "terrorist links".
Verma had stuck to his guns even as Congress had snubbed him in an apparent bid to mollify SP, which is supporting the government from outside.
Parliament witnessed uproar over Verma's remarks as SP members stormed the Well in both the Houses and demanded the minister's resignation.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi reached out the Mulayam Singh Yadav when the Lok Sabha witnessed an adjournment. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also met Yadav separately.
The two leaders are learnt to have conveyed to Yadav that the Congress party disapproved of Verma's utterances.
"I had expressed regret over the matter the day before yesterday in the House. They (SP) have not raised the issue after that. I met them yesterday and they are satisfied and the matter is closed," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told reporters in New Delhi earlier today.
Party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi had on Monday remained non-committal when asked whether Congress will take action against Verma but had made the party's displeasure clear by saying it has "taken this issue very seriously".
A section in Congress believes that Verma could be warming up to other parties like BSP ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament House two days back, Verma had said he stood by his statement that Yadav allegedly had "terrorist links". He had also ruled out stepping down following the SP leader's demand, saying, "Has he made me a minister?"
"The party is not in agreement with what he (Verma) has said. We do not approve of the statement he has given. Congress has always said that the partymen should talk seriously. SP is supporting our government from outside," party spokesperson Rashid Alvi had said on Monday.
PTI reports: Ticked off by the Congress leadership, Union minister Beni Prasad Verma today regretted his remarks against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who demanded his resignation during meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
"I have not given any interview saying he (Yadav) extends support (to the government) after taking Commission. But, if anybody's sentiments are hurt by such remarks, I express my regret," Verma said after meeting the Prime Minister, who is learnt to have read him the riot act for angering the 21-member SP whose support is crucial for the government in the wake of DMK pullout.
But, Yadav did not appear to be satisfied with the regret expressed by Verma and said the SP Parliamentary Board will meet tomorrow morning to take a call on the issue.
"There is a difference between regret and apology," SP leader Shailendra Kumar said after Yadav met the Prime Minister.
Between adjournments in the Lok Sabha, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde met Yadav separately and are understood to have conveyed to him that the Congress strongly disapproved of Verma's remarks.
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said Verma had tarnished the image of the SP chief who was "a respected leader of the House. He should either prove his charges or apologise."
Swaraj said after making such "disparaging remarks", Verma had "no right to continue in office. She said the BJP and SP may have political differences, but "this is a matter of privilege of the House."
Gandhi, who was present in the House and was watching the new bonhomie between SP, an outside supporter of the UPA, and BJP, walked upto Yadav's seat soon after Lok Sabha was adjourned around noon. Though she was not audible to reporters in the press gallery, Gandhi was seen talking to Yadav with folded hands.
Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had said that the "matter is closed" for the government after he had expressed regret in the Lok Sabha over Verma's remarks.
The Congress had expressed displeasure over Verma's remarks by saying it had "taken this issue very seriously".