The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Priyanka poser on sari tragedy

Rae Bareli, April 14: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today asked the BJP why it had told the Opposition not to “politicise” the Lucknow stampede in which 26 people were killed, as the Congress put 10 questions before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to answer.

Priyanka described the deaths during a sari distribution programme organised by Vajpayee’s election agent, Lalji Tandon, on his birthday as a “shameful incident”.

Two of the major Uttar Pradesh parties, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, have entered into an understanding of silence with the BJP, though at election time rivals would have been expected to kick up a storm over an explosive incident as this.

Speaking to the media while campaigning for Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka said: “It happened in the Prime Minister’s constituency and the incident concerned his polling agent. Clearly, his polling agent was flouting rules and yet we are told it is wrong to politicise the incident.

“When the Kargil intrusions took place, again we were told, ‘don’t politicise it’, and after that the coffin scam happened. Yet we were told, ‘don’t raise the issue’. Again, when Gujarat happened we were advised not to politicise it. But what is politics' It is all about highlighting such issues which directly concern people.”

Priyanka, who has not yet visited Lucknow after the event, said she might meet the families of the victims and the injured who were still in hospitals “discreetly”.

“It is not the time to publicise visits. I don’t want to make a tamasha of people’s feelings and cause them more harm.”

In Delhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: “He (Vajpayee) cannot absolve himself of the incident in Lucknow.”

He asked Vajpayee:

• Whether it was not true that Tandon was Vajpayee’s election agent'

• Why Tandon and others sitting on the dais were not named in the FIR and arrested'

• Why such a programme was organised when Section 144 was in force in the area'

• Who were the BJP supporters who purchased the saris and supplied to the organisers of the birthday party'

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