The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP slams Cong on ‘sad’ Advani

New Delhi, Jan. 13: BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu has taken exception to Congress questions on deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s expression of “sadness” over the Gujarat riots at the recent Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

Speaking to the media, Naidu said the Congress continued to suffer from the “Gujarat phobia” as “everybody from the Congress president, the Congress spokesman to Congress leaders were continuing their Gujarat BJP-Hindutva bashing even today”.

Referring to Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy’s statement wondering why Advani felt “sad and ashamed”, Naidu said: “In Gujarat, there was Godhra and, later, Ahmedabad and other incidents. Everybody was unhappy except the Congress. It was unhappy on the Ahmedabad violence and on Godhra there was silence.”

“Advani said we are upset with all that happened. Where is the need for a clarification'”

He then harked back to the 1984 Sikh pogrom. “Are you unhappy with what happened in 1984'” he asked the Congress. “Have you forgotten what Rajiv Gandhi said about the earth shaking when a great tree falls' Have you accepted the galti (mistake) for the hilti (earth-shaking) statement'

“The Congress has again indulged in Hindu-bashing and India-bashing because it campaigned against Gujarat not just in India but abroad too,” he said.

The BJP chief also threw the “patriotism” gauntlet at the Congress. If Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh was sincere about his ongoing “Jhanda Uncha Rahe Hamara” (may our tricolour fly high) yatra, he should spell out his party’s stand on issues such as religious conversions, use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act against militants, the removal of “distortions introduced by Leftists and pseudo-secularists” in textbooks.

“Are they with the BJP on identifying, detecting, deleting and deporting infiltrators' Are they ready to accept the three Ds'”

“The Madhya Pradesh chief minister says jhanda uncha rahe hamara, but uncha for what reason' You (the Congress) don’t want to use the anti-terror Act against terrorists. You don’t want to stop conversions, you don’t want to check infiltration even when you know that infiltrators create social tension and are a burden on our economy,” the BJP president said.

Naidu was evasive when asked if the conversion issue would figure in the Northeast election campaign.

“Conversion is a national issue and, as far as I know, the Northeast is a part of India,” he said.

On whether tensions had developed between the BJP and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra after Narendra Modi’s rally in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park yesterday, Naidu’s answer was an emphatic no. “It was a party function to felicitate Modi. The BJP and the Sena are not only talking but walking together,” asserted the BJP president.

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