NDA meet skirts contradictions on Kandahar

March 29th, 2008 - 11:10 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders skirted discussion on the contradicting stands by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani and NDA convenor George Fernandes over their government’s handling of the Kandahar hijacking in 1999. NDA coordinator Sushma Swaraj, asked by reporters after a meeting of the NDA leaders at the residence of Advani Saturday, said: “There was no discussion at all on your issue.”

She added, “I am authorized today to restrict myself to brief you only on this and will not speak on any other subject.”

A day earlier, in a TV interview Fernandes had contradicted Advani’s claim in his autobiography “My Country, My Life” that he was not aware of the NDA government decision to dispatch the then union external affairs minister Jaswant Singh to secure the release of Indian Airlines passengers from Kandahar airport.

Terrorists later linked with the Pakistani intelligence hijacked an Indian Airline plane from Kathmandu to Afghanistan and demanded the release of three jailed Pakistani militants in return for the hostages.

Advani has said that he was not aware of the decision to send Singh along with the three militants, including Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar, in a special Indian plane to Kandahar.

Fernandes stated that the decision to send Singh was taken after a discussion between senior ministers. “All ministers were present.”

Fernandes, of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), was present at Saturday’s meeting as NDA convenor. But his party leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar gave the meeting a miss saying he had to go for “physiotherapy”, according to Swaraj.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje also gave it a miss citing “viral infection of the throat”.

Otherwise the quorum was full. The seven other chief ministers of NDA-ruled states, including Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik were there. So was Shiv Sena executive president Udhav Thackeray, BJP president Rajnath Singh, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi.

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