New Delhi: The Congress trained its guns on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani on the Varun Gandhi hate speech episode on Sunday, alleging that he was the “real culprit.”

“Varun is a small pawn in the whole game. The real culprit is Mr. Advani for this philosophy and thinking,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said in the context of Mr. Gandhi’s alleged anti-Muslim speeches. Attacking Mr. Advani for maintaining that the party’s decision to field Mr. Gandhi from Pilibhit was correct, Mr. Singhvi alleged that he supported Mr. Gandhi and never denounced his statements.

Senior Congress leader and Union Minister Kapil Sibal said Mr. Gandhi was a “minor player” in the whole controversy and that the conspirators and co-conspirators who stood to gain were “Advani and his party.”

Another party leader Digvijay Singh said, “It was sad to see that Varun had been made a pawn by the BJP, the RSS and the VHP and his inflammatory speeches were being written by people like VHP leader Parveen Togadia to divide voters on religious lines.”

Responding to Mr. Advani’s remarks that this was the first time in the last 60 years that the Election Commission recommended to a party not to field a candidate, Mr. Sibal said “no statement has been ever made in the past 60 years like the one given by Varun.” Mr. Sibal also alleged that Mr. Gandhi is “10 steps ahead of [Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra] Modi.” — PTI

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