They might have hardly been out of their jet lags, but the 12 Indian diamond traders who were released by Chinese authorities recently have found themselves in a political tussle after landing in Mumbai.
While on one hand the Surat City Congress Committee (SCCC) says it was the Centre that was instrumental in getting the Indian diamantaires released from China, the local Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) representatives in the city are seeking credit for the same.
"It was the persistence on part of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Congress Party that resulted in their release," says Ashok Jirawala, president of SCCC.
Even Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi himself took credit for expediting the trial and release of Indian diamond traders in China. Speaking at the 12th Sadbhavna fast in Surat recently, Modi said the quick verdict in the case of the Indian diamond traders was the result of continuous efforts made by the state government.
On the other hand, Jirawala's BJP counterpart Purnesh Modi alleges that all that the Congress party did was "mere paperwork".
"If they (Congress) say that they played a major role in the release of diamond traders then we would like to remind them that there are scores of fishermen held back in Pakistan. It was Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who during his recent visit to China took up the issue with the Chinese authorities. Otherwise, all that the Congress can do is paperwork," stated Modi.
Apparently, the Gujarat CM had been on a five-day visit to China with a delegation from the state in November. The visit was aimed at exploring tie-ups in infrastructure, culture, telecom and technology where Chinese companies had also shown equal interest in bilateral ties. Industry sources also say that the released diamond traders and their family members are being pursued by both the parties continually to make public their involvement in the issue.
Meanwhile, it has been learnt that the diamond merchants will stay in Mumbai till January 13 in view of their family members set to felicitate Mukesh Gadhavi, Congress MP from Banaskantha who had reportedly played a key role in taking up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.