On his demand for a U.S.-style TV debate with the PM

Congress members have opposed such a debate

Advani: Opposition has made Varun a “poster boy”

PADRAUNA (UTTAR PRADESH): With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh refusing his offer for a television debate, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani has said that if he was not willing, he could ask Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the same.

“I have told the Prime Minister several times that it would be so nice that like in foreign countries [U.S. presidential debate], we should also have a debate. Instead of a BJP public meeting, the Election Commission could organise a meeting [for the debate],” Mr. Advani told an election rally here.

“If the Prime Minister is not willing [for a debate], he can ask the Congress president [Sonia Gandhi],” he said.

Raising his pet issue ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Advani said the “expectations of the people” that a “grand Ram temple” be built at Ayodhya would definitely be fulfilled.

Pledging to fight against terrorism, ensuring implementation of the Ladli Laxmi scheme for the girl child, making Sarva Siksha Abhiyan more effective were some of the other poll promises Mr. Advani made here.

The former Deputy Prime Minister said if he formed a government at the Centre, he would work for providing computer literacy to “every boy and girl in villages.”

Afzal Guru issue

The BJP leader said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had not hanged 2001 Parliament attack prime accused Afzal Guru because of minority appeasement and vote-bank politics. “Had he been an Anand Kumar or an Anand Mohan, do you think he would have evaded hanging for so long?” he said.

Support to Varun

Mr. Advani came out in support of Varun Gandhi, under fire for his alleged hate speeches, and said it was the Opposition which had made him a “poster boy.”

He accused the Election Commission of exceeding its brief by suggesting that the BJP not field him as a candidate in the election. “We did not make Varun Gandhi a poster boy. It is the others who give publicity. Most of the time, our opponents have made him a poster boy,” Mr. Advani said.