Congress on Tuesday fully backed Rahul Gandhi on his remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and on issues of transparency and corruption while the opposition attacked him on his views in an interview to a TV channel.
Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said while the post- Godhra court cases had to be transferred from Gujarat for justice, a large number of convictions did take place in the anti-Sikh riots cases.
“Criminal law does not make a distinction between common people and the leaders of political parties… 482 convictions took place in the 1984 riots. The political career of a number of very senior Congress leaders was affected (because of the riots). Apart from apology, there has been a reconciliation for the last 20-30 years,” he said.
Contrasting that with the 2002 Gujarat riots, Singhvi said that for the first time in the country, court cases relating to the riots were transferred to Maharashtra, which is the “clearest vote of no confidence” in the Modi government.
“This was done to ensure an impartial, objective, fair, dependable” outcome which, it was felt, could not be had in the Modi-led Gujarat,” he added.
In an interview to a television channel, Gandhi had yesterday said that while the Gujarat government was “involved” in the 2002 riots, the Congress government had tried to stop the anti-Sikh riots.
BJP and Akali Dal have slammed Gandhi for his remarks contrasting the Gujarat riots with the anti-Sikh riots. While SAD leader Naresh Gujaral alleged that Congress had shielded individuals who were involved in the “carnage” against Sikhs, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley has said Gandhi was “ill informed” on the Gujarat riots.
Singhvi said, “He (Gandhi) is quite unlike a number of persons in our political system, who aspire for big office but
are habituated to speaking with a forked tongue, who are self- centred and have illusions of infallibility.”
Lauding Gandhi’s “honesty of purpose, sincerity, passion and commitment to changing the system,” Singhvi said that in the interview the Congress vice president had come out as a man steadfast in his ideas, ideals and principles.
“Gandhi has not only spoken and interacted. He willingly subjected himself to a no-holds barred 80-minute in-depth cross examination and he has done it with humility,” Singhvi said, pointing at Gandhi’s emphasis on transparency as the standpoint of the interview.
To repeated questions about some party MPs who were named in the cases, Singhvi said, “Political action has also taken place”, although he did not name anybody. Congress had refused Lok Sabha tickets to Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in 2009 general elections following allegations of them having played a role in the 1984 riots.
Responding to questions about the action taken against Congress leaders who were “involved” in the anti-Sikh riots, Singhvi said that while many had already been penalised, the process was still on to fix responsibility.
He said that in the 2002 Gujarat riots, a minister in the Modi government, Maya Kodnani, was convicted.
Singhvi also mentioned that former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had reminded Modi of his ‘Rajadharma’ as a Chief Minister.
Noting that that Gandhi has walked the talk on bringing openness in the system by holding elections in Youth Congress and NSUI, Singhvi said that the BJP does not have a comparable process. Hailing the Congress Vice President for his “firmness, resoluteness” and readiness to work.
Senior party leader Digvijay Singh, meanwhile, said that Gandhi had “stood his ground and put his point across, unlike Modi, who had walked out” of another television interview. Union Minister Milind Deora also praised Gandhi for the interview.
“Refusing to get into personality slugfests, taking on core issues and focusing on solutions earnestly, Rahul’s interview was very refreshing,” Deora said on ‘twitter.com’.