NATIONAL

War of words between BJP, Congress on terror

Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI: With elections in six States in full swing, the decibel level of sound bytes from the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on terror and vote bank politics are becoming higher and higher.

At 3 p.m. on Thursday, it was BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu who led the charge against the Congress, accusing it of “using as propaganda reports about the investigations of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad [into the Malegaon bomb blasts] even as elections are going on.”

Mr. Naidu said, “A terrorist is a terrorist and has no religion.” He alleged that the Congress was following the British strategy of divide and rule: “…in the past it talked about Sikh terrorism, then Muslim terrorism and is now trying to talk about Hindu terrorism.”

His charge was that this was all about “vote bank politics” of the ruling party although party leaders later were unable to explain, when asked, which vote bank was the Congress aiming at by talking about Muslim and Hindu terrorism as Hindus constituted about 80 per cent of the population and the Muslims about 15 per cent.

Mr. Naidu admitted: “I cannot be sure — just as others cannot be sure — that the Batla House accused or those arrested by the Maharashtra ATS are guilty or not guilty of terrorist activities.” Immediately afterwards, Mr. Naidu made the politically correct statement: “The BJP is very clear that whosoever is guilty of executing or supporting terrorist acts must be punished as per law.”

At the same time, he wondered why the Congress had suddenly become active in tracing terror links when elections were on.

A little over 90 minutes later at the Congress party office, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi dismissed the BJP’s suggestions that his party was following a divisive agenda.

“The very agenda of the BJP is divisive. It has the same philosophy that led to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, that manifested itself in Orissa [in the Kandhamal region], and which makes them support those accused of terrorism. The BJP’s very agenda is communal and divisive.”

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