Congress-BJP clash over Chidambaram’s stand on Gujarat

August 12th, 2011 - 11:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) A war of words erupted between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as Home Minister P. Chidambaram indicated that the centre could intervene in the row between the Gujarat government and some senior police officers who have alleged victimisation.

The BJP took strong objection to Chidambaram’s statement terming it an attack on the federal structure.

Expressing concern over the situation in Gujarat where some police officers have alleged victimisation by the state government, Chidambaram said the central government could step in if the officers wanted.

The BJP hit back, accusing the Congress of conspiring against its government in the state.

The Left supported the Congress view, with Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury seeking intervention of the Supreme Court.

Three senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers of Gujarat cadre - Sanjiv Bhatt, Rahul Sharma and Rajneesh Rai - have alleged victimisation by the Modi government.

They accused the state government of inaction during the 2002 riots and in one case of alleged staged shootout killing.

Terming the alleged victimisation of the officers a matter of concern, Chidambaram said: “Rules do provide for the central government to take certain steps at a certain stage. But it all depends on the concerned officer to invoke the situation.

“Let that situation come, then this government will decide,” he added.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of conspiring with the disgruntled police officers and trying to destabilise the BJP government in Gujarat led by Narendra Modi.

“The central government is not the big brother that it can intervene in this matter,” Jaitley said.

The BJP leader said it was the state government’s duty to take action against indiscipline by police officials and called the home minister’s comment a “documentary evidence” of the centre’s efforts to destabilise the Gujarat government.

“Here is a second evidence where the union home minister, who should really be concerned with serious policing in the country, has intervened in favour of the indisciplined police officers.

“There is not the least doubt that the Congress and the central government are trying to encourage the indiscipline,” Jaitley said.

“We don’t expect police officers in this country to be actively conspiring with political leaders as to how to destabilise the state government. Here you have hard documentary evidence available…

“Some police officers are in contact and communication with political leaders of the Congress party along with some civil society activists,” he alleged.

The BJP leader also said that if the Congress kept intervening in the matter, it will lead to a confrontation between the Congress and the BJP.

“It is a serious issue, and if the home minister and the Congress do not resist from doing so, this will become a serious bone of contention between government and the BJP,” Jaitley said.

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari sought the central government’s intervention to protect whistle-blower officers.

“All seems to suggest that a desperate Gujarat government is walking an extra mile to see that the truth of Gujarat remains buried, and I that the government of India and the Supreme Court have to be pro-active to ensure that these whistle-blower officers are protected,” Tewari said.

Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid said that if the BJP was clean, the party should go to court.

Police officer Rai told the Central Administrative Tribunal that his annual confidential report had been downgraded by the state government.

Bhatt has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying Chief Minister Modi had instructed officials and police to let Hindus vent their anger after the February 2002 burning of Sabarmati Express which left 59 Hindus dead.

Bhatt was suspended on Aug 8 for unauthorised absence from duty.

Sharma had in 2004 submitted CDs of records of telephonic calls between the police, politicians and Sangh Parivar members during the 2002 riots to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission probing the riots.

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