Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The three-member “fact-finding committee” of the BJP, appointed by the party president Rajnath Singh to look into the alleged attack on Jamnagar Mayor Manharbhai Jhala, has viewed it as a “pre-planned conspiracy” of the Congress to “burn him alive.”

The committee, led by party spokesman Prakash Javadekar, with Vijay Goel and Satyanarayan Jatia as its members, spent about five hours in Jamnagar discussing the issue with Mr. Jhala and some employees of the municipal corporation.

Later Mr. Javadekar told mediapersons that some civic employees had also “confirmed” it to the committee that an attempt was made to “set Mr. Jhala afire and burn him alive.” He said the Congress wanted to finish him off because of his “immense popularity” among the people.

Promising to make it a national issue, Mr. Javadekar said as the Mayor belonged to Dalit community, a complaint would also be lodged with the National Scheduled Castes and Tribes Commission.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly, Arjun Modhvadia, strongly criticised the BJP for making it a major political issue to malign the Congress. Claiming that crude oil was thrown at Mr. Jhala to “blacken his face,” Mr. Modhvadia said it was the handiwork of the BJP dissidents themselves and the Congress had nothing to do with it. He described the incident as “unfortunate” but said the BJP should have allowed the law to take its own course instead of making it a political issue.