The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday fired a salvo at the Congress for “ignoring the contribution of Sardar Patel and Abul Kalam Azad.”
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the Congress why it took so much time to confer the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour, on the two freedom fighters.
“Sardar Patel died in 1950 and Maulana Azad in 1958, both were great sons of India. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi served as Prime Ministers for as long as 38 years, but none of them conferred the Bharat Ratna on Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad. It was the Narasimha Rao government which conferred the Bharat Ratna on Patel and Azad in 1991 and 1992,” Mr. Prasad said.
Reacting to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's comments about the BJP trying to adopt Sardar Patel as its icon, the BJP leader retaliated, accusing the Congress of portraying the freedom fighter in negative light.
The BJP leader deplored Mr. Gandhi's comment linking the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination as attempts to “deflect attention from the UPA government’s failures.” He cited a reference from Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan Gandhi’s book, Patel — A Life, to state that no evidence was found against the RSS to link it to the assassination of the leader.
“Gandhiji’s grandson in his book has mentioned that Sardar Patel disagreed with Nehru’s opinion that the RSS had a role to play in the assassination. He quotes the Sardar having said that ‘I have kept myself almost in daily touch with the progress of the investigation regarding Bapu’s assassination case... It emerges clearly from these statements that the RSS was not involved in it [assassination] at all. It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through',” Mr. Prasad said.
The BJP leader said Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s attack on the RSS was aimed at distracting the electorate from key issues. “The election of 2014 is going to be fought on issues of unemployment, inflation and security. People are going to ask questions about these issues from Rahul Gandhi. He has no answers and therefore, to divert their attention, a completely false and mischievous allegation has been levelled by him about the RSS’s involvement in the killing of Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.