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BJP, Congress lock horns over Dandi March re-enactment

Tuesday 15 March 2005

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 14. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today described the re-enactment of `Dandi March’ by the Congress as a "joke and farce" as it `hardly bore any relevance’ to the Gandhian principles and thought.

The BJP spokesman and MP, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, said that it was ironical that re-enactment of the march was flagged off by a "woman of foreign origin" and none of the big leaders of the Congress participated. "The Congress should have invited everyone but it chose to make it a party issue," Mr. Malhotra said.

The BJP leader claimed that the Congress had abandoned key features of the Gandhian philosophy. These included a ban on cow slaughter, promotion of small scale and cottage industries and prohibiting the sale of liquor. "The Congress has misused the name of Mahatma Gandhi," he alleged.

Surprise over remarks

The Congress today expressed surprise at the critical remarks by the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani, about the function to mark 75 years of Dandi March, considering that the organisation with which he was associated stood opposed to Mahatma Gandhi.

In an apparent reference to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Congress spokesperson, Anand Sharma, said the organisation had actively opposed all the three major movements - non-cooperation, Dandi March and Quit India - led by Mahatma Gandhi.

"We fail to see any justification for inviting the representative of any party that had proactively worked against what all Gandhiji stood for," Mr. Sharma said, adding that individuals influenced by their doctrine were responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

He said there was no restriction on participation in the event and disputed the charge that the event was a "party affair." Accusing the BJP of "trivialising" a momentous occasion in history, Mr. Sharma said the objective was to recreate the spirit for the younger generation.

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