New Delhi, April 11: In a fresh salvo at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress Friday said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wanted him “removed” as the Gujarat chief minister following the 2002 riots.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back, saying Congress is praising its leaders as they have forgotten their own leaders.
An article posted on the Congress website said no leader in BJP “can match the stature” of Vajpayee, the party’s founding president. However, the Congress later clarified that that it was not endorsing Vajpayee’s policies and it had different principles.
The article said Modi’s failure to act on the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat was the reason for BJP’s loss in 2004 Lok Sabha poll.
“NDA was defeated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2004. Vajpayee was clear what was the reason for the defeat: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s failure to control the communal pogrom in his state in 2002,” the article said.
The article quoted Vajpayee in Manali saying: “Some people wanted to remove him. I was of the same opinion.”
It added that it has been confirmed by now expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh.
A picture of Vajpayee, published with the articles said “think”… “Modi did not follow his rajdharma”.
“This raises the question that how can a person whom the tallest leader of the BJP wanted removed as chief minister, be the party’s prime ministerial candidate?” the article questioned.
“The BJP might forget Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But every Indian must ponder over the questions he raised on the man who is now the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.”
With pictures of Vajpayee on Congress website raising some curious questions, Congerss general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said the party has had differences with Vajpayee.
“We still believe that in politics of independent India, Atal-Advani (Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani) were in the forefront to communalise politics,” he said.
“Some of his (Vajpayee’s) poliices were good. When he was in active politics, we criticised him,” he added.
Hitting out at Congress, former BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said: “Congress has forgotten its leaders… now in the morning they remember Advani, (in the) evening Atal ji… tomorrow Sushma (Swaraj) ji and then Modi ji,” he said.
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi alleged that the Congress is short of issues.”This is the same Congress that earlier said Vajpayee was good but BJP was bad, now they’re calling BJP good and Modi bad,” he said.
“Congress is short of issues that is why they’re forced to praise a BJP leader,” he added.