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BJP seizes riot ammo

New Delhi, Jan. 28: The BJP today hit back at Rahul Gandhi, using words like “ill-informed” and “irresponsible” to target the Congress leader after his first formal interview to a television channel.

The focus of the BJP’s attack was on Rahul’s comments on the Gujarat riots and the distinction he sought to draw between the 2002 pogrom and the 1984 anti-Sikh violence in Delhi.

“The remarks are palpably wrong. It is a textbook case of speaking a lie. The people of the country will reply to this,” said chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, who launched the attack with party colleague Arun Jaitley.

In the interview with Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, pre-recorded on Saturday and telecast yesterday, Rahul had said the government was not involved in the 1984 violence, unlike what had happened in Gujarat.

Prasad said Rahul’s remarks were “unfortunate” and “irresponsible” as the Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team had given Narendra Modi a clean chit.

“Rahul Gandhi is ill-informed. In 1984, police hardly fired at the rioters, it was in collusion with the government. In Gujarat, 300 rioters died in police firing. Around 65,000 rioters were arrested in Gujarat,” Jaitley said.

Jaitley said Modi went through inquiries, including by the SIT, and came out clean, while nothing of that sort happened with Congress leaders involved in the 1984 riots. “Which Congressman has ended in jail because of 1984?” he asked.

The BJP mocked Rahul’s assertion that the system in this country needed a change. “His claim to change the system and make the process more open sounds almost laughable because people of the country are entitled to ask as to what he did in the last 10 years,” Prasad said.

“If Rahul Gandhi was a member of any other political party, he would still be struggling to become a party office bearer. He needs to speak about the Congress party needing a change and not the whole system,” Jaitley added.

Prasad said Rahul was reluctant to be projected as his party’s candidate for Prime Minister as he realised that the Congress was headed towards certain defeat. “Rahul recognises that certain defeat stares at his face. When he was asked why he chose to run away from a direct competition with Modi, he had nothing to say,” Prasad said.

Jaitley said the most “startling statement” in the interview was the one on dynasty and quoted what Rahul said: “I am absolutely against the concept of dynasty, anybody who knows me knows that and understands that.”

“Surely, Mr Gandhi,” Jaitley went on, “you don’t expect India to believe you on that.”