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Paswan plea

New Delhi, Aug. 22: Former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan and former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra today appealed to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to stop Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi from undertaking his proposed Gaurav Yatra from September 3, reports our special correspondent.

The Lok Janshakti chief and the Nationalist Congress Party leader condemned the proposal to take out the yatra as a sinister political act. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had yesterday urged Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to dissuade Modi from taking out the yatra.

Paswan drew a parallel between President George W. Bush and Narendra Modi, comparing Modi’s handling of the Gujarat riots to Bush’s handling of the crisis after the terrorist attack on the WTC on September 11.

Bush went on TV within an hour and said it was the work of Osama bin Laden and that he wanted him dead or alive. But Bush never blamed Muslims as a community and the BJP government was doing everything possibly to paint the entire community as terrorists, Paswan told Kalam.

While Bush went on television almost every day to restore the confidence of Americans, Modi was propagating “khoon ka badla khoon se (blood for blood)”.

“As a nation, it would be most shameful of us if we were to let such an act of ‘glorification’ of deaths and destruction take place,” Paswan and Mishra told the President, slamming the intention behind the Gaurav Yatra. Kalam, they said, expressed concern.

Paswan apprised the President on how the BJP-led government had tried to exaggerate the Godhra killings by not publicising the exact death toll in the Sabarmati Express.

According to the reservation charts released by the railways, only four of the 56 passengers who had booked berths in S-6 bogie had died, nine were injured and seven missing, he said. The state government had claimed that 58 people had died in coach S-6.

Hinting that the entire incident was pre-planned, Paswan wondered how subsequent forensic reports had indicated that the inflammable material could have been poured from inside the bogie.

The leaders said it was shocking to learn that while the Prime Minister himself had termed the violence as a “national shame”, his party was trying to glorify the riots. They urged Kalam to stop this sinister act of politics as the custodian of the Constitution.

“It was your oath to protect and preserve our Constitution, which is under threat by such an act,” Paswan said. The former Union minister reminding the President that he himself had visited Gujarat and commented upon the inadequate relief and rehabilitation work.

In a separate memorandum to the President, Paswan urged that Bihar be declared a “famine state” as 140 lakh people in 24 districts faced extreme hardship due to floods while 13 districts were hit by drought. More than 300 people had died in the floods, he said, and appealed to Kalam to visit the state.

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