Congress and BJP spar over Kandahar hijack issue

March 24th, 2008 - 9:04 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani’s revelation that he was not aware of then foreign minister Jaswant Singh accompanying the terrorists triggered a fresh row Monday between the ruling Congress and the opposition party. While the BJP defended Advani’s remarks in an interview, the Congress pooh-poohed the former deputy prime minister’s claim.

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Monday that Advani did not know whether the then foreign minister was going on the plane that had carried terrorists.

“Advaniji was aware of the decision taken in the cabinet committee on security that the passengers should be brought back safely. However, he was not in the loop about the procedure to be followed to bring back the 160 passengers. As such, he did not know whether the foreign minister was going on the plane,” Rudy told reporters here.

According to Advani, he did not know Singh would accompany the terrorists on the plane to Kandahar. He also said that he had been opposed to giving the terrorists a safe passage. Jaswant Singh had handed over the terrorists to the hijackers and brought back the 160 passengers who had boarded the ill-fated IC-814 plane in December 1999.

Sensing the BJP’s discomfort over the revelations, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the claims were “mind-boggling.”

“It is mind-boggling that the (then) home minister was not aware that the foreign minister was going to Afghanistan. What kind of a home minister was he?” asked Singhvi.

“How come the (then) home minister is not even informed when the country was going through a crisis? And what did he do when he came to know (that Singh was going to Kandahar)?” he added.

Singhvi also dubbed Advani’s autobiography - “My Country, My Life”-a hagiography. “It follows a simple principle. Whatever good happened is attributable to me and whatever wrong happened is attributable to prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”

On the issue of Advani visiting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the occasion of Holi to present his book, Singhvi said: “It is important for putative leaders not to first make personal attacks in a book and then do the hypocrisy of visiting the people you have bashed in the book. This is what I term a gimmick.”

Advani’s book makes scathing attacks on Gandhi including on her foreign origin, her failed attempt to become prime minister in 1999 and the closeness of Bofors pay off-scam-accused Ottavio Quattrocchi to the Gandhi family.

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