Advani condemns pub attack, Congress says Advani wooing voters (Second Lead)February 28th, 2009 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Bangalore, Feb 28 (IANS) Over a month after activists of a fringe rightwing Hindu group brutally beat up women at a Mangalore pub in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Karnataka, senior party leader L.K. Advani Saturday opened up and condemned the incident that has led to angry reactions and campaigns by people, especially youngsters.
However, the Congress criticised Advani’s statement as wooing the voters with Lok Sabha elections round the corner.
Advani, while addressing a rally of students and youth in Karnataka to mark the conclusion of a state-wide anti-terror campaign by the ruling BJP, blasted the Sri Rama Sene for its attack on women in a Mangalore pub, saying such “barbaric attacks are condemnable”.
He was referring to the Jan 24 attack on young women by around 40 Sri Rama Sene men. The Sene members accused the women who go to pubs of violating Indian traditions and culture.
Speaking to reporters after the rally, Advani said: “I strongly condemn the attack on girls in Mangalore. There can be no compromise on this. It is wrong and against Indian culture and ethos.”
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate said people could have different perspectives on whether they approved of young men and women frequenting pubs but attacking them was wrong.
“Girls and boys will have their own ways, and you may not approve, but it is wrong to attack them for it,” he said.
Hundreds of male and female students attended the rally in scorching heat at the Palace Grounds, about five km from the city centre. Its highlight was an address by K. Unnikrishnan, father of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, a National Security Guard (NSG) commando who was killed in a gun battle with terrorists during the Nov 26-29 Mumbai carnage last year.
After being garlanded and presented with a shawl by Advani, Unnikrishnan and his wife Dhanalakshmi sought the BJP leader’s blessings by touching his feet.
In his brief address in Kannada, Unnikrishnan said his son was not killed but sought death fighting the terrorists.
“Have such fire in you and no terrorist can kill you,” he exhorted the cheering young audience.
The Congress party, reacting to Advani’s statement, said: “Advanji knows that elections are round the corner and has given this statement keeping this in mind.”
Kapil Sibal, union minister of science and technology, also said that such criticism would be of no use “until Advani dissociate himself from organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and Ram Sene”.