Why did Advani not resign over Kandahar, asks Sonia (Roundup)

April 14th, 2009 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Raipur/Bhopal, April 14 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday continued her attack on Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, demanding to know why he did not resign over the 1999 Kandahar hijack episode when terrorists were freed by the then National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, apparently without his knowledge, though he was the home minister at the time.
“I want to ask Advaniji if such a big conspiracy was hatched, with terrorists being taken to Kandahar by his government without his knowledge, then why did he not resign when he came to know about the truth later?” she said, addressing a public rally at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh.

At a series of campaign rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Congress president was reacting to a statement by Advani that he was unaware of the government’s decision to release terrorists in exchange for Indian hostages in 1999, when he was the home minister.

She had spoken on the issue at campaign rallies on Monday also. So did Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

“Is what he (Advani) is saying correct? Or was it something else? You have to think over the issue while making up your mind for voting,” Sonia Gandhi told voters.

At a rally in Mandla in Madhya Pradesh this afternoon, she also accused the BJP of giving a communal colour to the issue of terrorism.

“Some people find shortcomings in our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but these people want to communalise even a serious issue like terrorism,” Sonia Gandhi said.

“Some people” was an obvious reference to the BJP whose prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani has repeatedly called Manmohan Singh a weak prime minister.

Sonia Gandhi said the terrorists whom the NDA government had freed were the same people carrying out terrorist attacks in different parts of the world. Terrorists were released in exchange for a planeload of Indian hostages at that time.

At the rallies, Sonia Gandhi also took potshots at the ruling BJP in the two states, alleging development had taken a back seat there.

The Congress president accused the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh of corruption and neglecting people’s welfare, while she said in Chhattisgarh that the state was not developing because the ruling party did not have the political will for it.

“We gave millions and millions to the state government for the welfare of people in the state. But people have not benefited from it. I want to ask what the government has done with this money? How has this money been used? To whose pocket has this money gone?” Sonia Gandhi asked.

Polling for the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh will be held in two phases April 23 and April 30, while Chhattisgarh’s 11 seats go to the polls this Thursday.

Sonia Gandhi cited programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the midday meal plan undertaken by the Congress-led government in New Delhi.

“We have taken the country on the road to development. The growth rate under the Congress led government has been historic,” she said at a rally on the last day of campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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