Spat breaks out over Rahul Gandhi's comments against Narendra Modi

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 29 2014, 03:06am hrs
Rahul Gandhi's comments against Narendra Modi on the Gujarat riots and anti-Sikh communal violence today triggered a political spat with BJP and Akali Dal hitting out at him while Congress came to his defence.

BJP hit back at Rahul Gandhi for his attack on Narendra Modi over the Gujarat riots, saying his "irresponsible" comments were condemnable and he should express regret for these.

The party claimed that the Narendra Modi government had tried to control the riots in 2002 as "300 rioters" were killed in police firing and in contrast, "not a single bullet was fired" to check the "state-sponsored pogrom" in Delhi in 1984.

"The remarks are palpably wrong. We condemn these...It is a textbook case of speaking a lie. The people of the country will reply to this," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

Prasad was reacting to comments by Rahul Gandhi that the Narendra Modi government was "abetting and pushing" the rioters during the 2002 violence.

"He (Rahul Gandhi) needs to take back his remarks. He must publicly express regret for making a palpably wrong statement," the BJP leader said.

Gandhi has not made a "responsible" comment, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, adding the Congress Vice President is "ill-informed" on the Gujarat riots.

Shiromani Akali Dal also attacked Rahul Gandhi for saying that the Rajiv Gandhi government had tried to stop the 1984 riots in Delhi. Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral said the police had not acted at all as "clearly there were orders from the Prime Minister's residence not to act".

"Rahul Gandhi says that Narendra Modi was reponsible for the 2002 riots in Gujarat because he was the Chief Minister.

Then what about his father (Rajiv Gandhi) who was the Prime Minister when the carnage against Sikhs took place in Delhi," Gujral said here.

Drawing a contrast with Gujarat riots, he said several people from the majority as well as the minority community were killed in police firing.

"Several hundred people including a former Gujarat minister have been jailed for the 2002 riots but those accused of gruesome crimes in 1984 have been protected and even made MPs," Gujral said.

Backing Gandhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said a large number of convictions took place in the anti-Sikh riots cases while the post-Godhra court cases had to be transferred from Gujarat for justice.

"Criminal law does not make a distinction between common people and the leaders of political parties... 482 convictions took place in the 1984 riots. The political career of a number of very senior Congress leaders was affected (because of the riots). Apart from apology, there has been a reconciliation for the last 20-30 years," he said.

Contrasting that with the 2002 Gujarat riots, Singhvi said that for the first time in the country, court cases relating to the riots were transferred to Maharashtra, which is the "clearest vote of no confidence" in the Modi government.

"This was done to ensure an impartial, objective, fair, dependable" outcome which, it was felt, could not be had in the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat," he added.