Rahul Gandhi lied in his comments on the Gujarat riots and his entire interview to a TV news channel was “bereft of an idea which could generate hope”, the BJP said Tuesday.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said Gandhi’s interview with Times Now news channel was “a performance of evasion, which was amateurish, rank falsehood and unfortunately of rank ignorance”.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley also slammed Gandhi’s remarks, saying he was ill-informed about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
“Rahul Gandhi is ill-informed. In 1984, police hardly fired at the rioters… it was in collusion with the government. In Gujarat, 300 rioters died in police firing. Around 65,000 rioters were arrested in Gujarat… more than 4,000 cases have been charge sheeted and hundreds have been convicted,” Jaitley told Times Now.
Rahul Gandhi said in the TV interview that the difference between the 1984 riots and the 2002 riots in Gujarat was that in 1984 the government was trying to stop the violence, while in Gujarat the government was “abetting and pushing” the riots.
“Even the chief minister (of Gujarat) has gone through inquiries. What did they (Congress) do in 1984?” Jaitley questioned.
“Which Congressman has ended up in jail because of 1984? The call for ‘khoon ka badla khoon’ (an eye for an eye) was heard in AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Science) first,” he said.
Then prime minister Indira Gandhi was taken to the AIIMS after being shot by her Sikh bodyguards.
On Rahul Gandhi not apologising for the 1984 riots, Jaitley said: “We are not expecting him to go that far. We are just expecting him to have correct lessons of history.”
Prasad told media persons that Gandhi could do little to check price rise, tackle corruption or boost manufacturing and economy during the 10 years of the United Progressive Alliance government, in which he was the “second-most decisive voice” after his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
He said Rahul Gandhi did not give specific answers on allegations faced by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan.
On Gandhi’s oft-repeated remarks of his desire to change the system, decentralisation and empowerment, Prasad said who had stopped him from doing so in the past 10 years.
“I will change the system (Rahul Gandhi said), when time has come for departure (of the UPA government),” Prasad said.
Accusing Gandhi of “ignorance of India’s political past”, Prasad said the Congress had directly or indirectly ruled the country for over 55 years and the party’s scion should “own up” to the failures.
On Gandhi’s reference to the Right to Information Act enacted by the UPA government, Prasad said it failed to check “scams”, referring to the 2G spectrum allocation, coal blocks and the Commonwealth Games.
He said Gandhi’s remark about the Gujarat riots was a “textbook case of speaking a lie”.
He said successive Congress governments failed to deliver justice in the 1984 riots and “Delhi Police and CBI tried to save Sajjan Kumar”.
Prasad said former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi said in 1985 that “the Earth shakes when a big tree falls”. “This was an attempt to justify 1984 (riots),” Prasad said.
Stating that Gandhi’s remarks about dynastic politics were “ridiculous”, Prasad said: “The very rationale of your (Gandhi’s) authority is dynasty.”
Referring to Modi, Prasad said it can only happen in the BJP that a person born in a poor family is made prime ministerial candidate “on the basis of his capacity, talent and record of governance”.
Prasad also said Gandhi spoke of a possible alliance with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal as an alliance with an idea.
“What is the idea he is talking about – of corruption, lawlessness…” Prasad said.
Jaitley, who also wrote an article, said Gandhi’s answers to the question of Congress not declaring a prime ministerial candidate were unconvincing.
“If Rahul Gandhi was a member of any other political party, he would still be struggling to become a party office bearer,” Jaitley said.