Under attack from the BJP over controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s reported donation to a Sonia Gandhi-headed trust, the Congress on Monday said the previous NDA government headed by A B Vajpayee had, in 2003, “organised” and “facilitated” Naik’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir and went all out to make his three-day visit a success.
“These days, the BJP does not get tired of chanting Zakir Naik’s name. He has become a new mantra for them. In 2003, the BJP was in power at the Centre and the PDP — the BJP’s ally now — was in government in Jammu and Kashmir. Is it not a fact that Zakir Naik was entertained at the Raj Bhawan in Jammu and Kashmir then? Is it wrong that the then NDA government at the Centre facilitated the visit of Naik to J&K,” said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.
“Is it not a fact that the then Governor of J&K received him (Naik) and accorded him courtesy at Raj Bhawan? Is it not a fact that Naik’s three-day visit to J&K was organised by the then NDA government, which pulled out all the stops to make it successful,” he said.
“Till the time that the information with regard to the indoctrination, alleged or real, of the Dhaka attack perpetrators became public, Zakir Naik or his organisation may have been surreptitious, but they were not on the radar of either the media or for that matter the security agencies,” said Tewari. “So as the BJP starts pointing fingers and imputing movies, it would be worthwhile to introspect that if Zakir Naik is the devil incarnate… what were they doing frolicking with the devil incarnate in 2003.”
Rubbishing the Congress attack, BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said: “The Congress always does this. When it is caught red-handed, it turns back and blames the previous NDA government.”