POTA a failed law, we need a strong terror law: Rahul Gandhi (Roundup)

September 24th, 2008 - 8:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghJalandhar (Punjab), Sep 24 (IANS) Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi Wednesday took on those demanding a strong anti-terror legislation in India, saying that “POTA was a failed law”.Advocating the need to have a “strong terror law” in the country, Gandhi said that instead of having a law like POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) “which was ineffective”, what was required was “a strong political will from the government”.

“I think our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has shown that political will,” Gandhi said while addressing a press conference in this Punjab city, 150 km from Chandigarh, on the last day of his 3-day trip to Punjab.

“The parliament attack and the Kandahar hijacking took place when POTA was there. Was the law or the government able to stop such and other terrorist activities? The then government not only bowed before terrorists in Kandahar but also allowed them to indulge in more terror activities,” Gandhi observed.

The suave political heir to the Nehru-Gandhi family Wednesday took time off to answer questions at leisure - ranging from his becoming the country’s Prime Minister, his marriage plans, his trips to discover India, the country’s poor, his political opponents and the nuclear deal.

Gandhi made it quite clear that he was not in the running for the country’s Prime Minister’s post.

“My prime minister is Mr. Manmohan Singh. The Congress Prime Minister is Manmohan Singhji. As a young Congress member, he has my full support,” Gandhi said.

On the question of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, Gandhi said that he supported the deal “quite strongly”.

“I am absolutely in favour of the nuclear deal. Anytime, anywhere. This will enhance the status of our country at the international level and make India a powerful country. The Prime Minister deserves all credit for this,” he stated.

Dressed in white ‘kurta-payjama’, the 38-year-old bachelor reflected a lot of maturity in answering all questions - not losing an opportunity to hit back with blunt replies.

When questioned about his marriage plans, Gandhi hit back: “It is the Press that informs me about my marriage plans. The media seems to know more about my marriage than me.”

When told that ruling Akali Dal leaders, especially Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal, had not used kind words about his visit, Gandhi quipped: “I don’t have anything against my opponents and don’t need to comment on them. I am doing my job, they are doing theirs.”

Gandhi, who got a good response from party workers in the 17 Punjab districts that he covered in three days, showered praise on the Punjabi spirit.

“Unlike in Uttar Pradesh and other places, where poverty is much more, I have seen that even the poor in Punjab have a certain level of confidence about themselves. They are optimistic and they intend to do well because of this attitude. People here may not be rich but have the attitude of the rich,” he said.

The Congress leader, who started his trip to Punjab with a completely unscheduled visit to ‘Harmandar Sahib’, the holiest Sikh shrine in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar Monday, ended it by paying obeisance at Khatkar Kalan, the village of freedom fighter and martyr Bhagat Singh.

“He was a youngster who fought for what he believed in. He believed in it so strongly that he gave his life for it,” Gandhi said as he conveyed that he was very much inspired by Bhagat Singh.

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