Debating India


Defend Advani against attacks: Vajpayee

Thursday 16 June 2005

Mind your own business, BJP tells VHP

NEW DELHI: The former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on Wednesday put the Bharatiya Janata Party in top gear, directing that president L.K. Advani be defended against attacks from its sibling Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliate, Vishwa Hindu Parishad. On Tuesday, the VHP demanded that Mr. Advani not only quit as BJP president but also retire from politics.

Party sources said that taking his cue from Mr. Vajpayee, vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu in Chennai asked the VHP to ``mind its own business.’’ Here party spokesman Prakash Javadekar directly rejected the VHP demand. While criticising Mr. Advani for his Jinnah remarks in Pakistan, the VHP leadership forgot that he was party to the ``statement’’ adopted by the BJP parliamentary board on June 10, Mr. Javadekar said. That statement made clear the stand of Mr. Advani and the party on Jinnah: the BJP steadfastly rejects the two-nation theory (Hindus and Muslims as separate nations) championed by Jinnah.

The spokesman took up two other issues: One, the party demanded that the Government take up with Pakistan, at the diplomatic level, the allegation by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik that its Information Minister Sheikh Rashid was responsible for running a terrorist camp for training Kashmiri jehadis.

``This is a serious matter. The India-Pakistan 2004 statement in Islamabad made it clear that terrorism and peace dialogue cannot go side by side. The people of this country want to know what role was played by Sheikh Rashid,’’ Mr. Javadekar said. Mr. Malik was now trying to retract his allegation but the Government should clarify and take up the matter with Pakistan.

The second subject was Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Russia. Mr. Javadekar said it was ``wrong’’ on the part of External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh to accompany her, leaving the G-77 meeting in Doha.

The Government should clarify whether Ms. Gandhi had gone to Russia as Congress president, as chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance or as chairperson of the National Advisory Council.

See online : The Hindu

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