NEW DELHI: Upping the ante ahead of Monday's all-party meeting convened by the government, Congress today insisted that the issue of action against three top BJP leaders should be on the agenda if the deadlock in Parliament is to be broken.
Before the start of the third week of the Monsoon session, which has so far been a stalled affair due to the opposition's protests over the Lalit Modi controversy and Vyapam scam, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also hit out at Home Minister Rajnath Singh, saying there was no need for anybody to lecture Congress on fighting terror. The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha told reporters that the Home Minister was attempting to create polarisation by talking about "Hindu terrorism" and diverting attention away from the "failures" of the government.
"The government which released dreaded militants and flew them to Afghanistan should not lecture us on terrorism," Azad said in an apparent reference to the then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh flying to Kandahar accompanied by militants who were freed in the wake of the IC-814 hijacking in December, 1999. Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters, Azad said, "We have no objection to holding discussions to break the logjam, but it should be based on what action is taken against Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje (in connection with the Lalit Modi row) and (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan) over the Vyapam scam".
"It (the three BJP leaders' fate) should be on the agenda for the discussions," said Azad, emphasising that Congress was keen on the passage of important Bills in the current session of Parliament, which has faced disruptions for the last two weeks. The party had yesterday made it clear that its participation in an all-party meeting to break the deadlock depended on a "tangible" proposal from the Prime Minister on the opposition's demands.
The Congress's response comes at a time when the government has attempted to reach out to the opposition by convening an all-party meet on Monday. Congress has been disrupting proceedings in Parliament over its demand for the resignations of Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan.
Meanwhile, rejecting the Home Minister's charge that Congress was not serious about fighting terror, Azad said that the party has sacrificed its top leaders in the fight. "We don't need BJP to lecture on this," said the senior Congress leader. On the "Hindu terrorism" issue raised by Singh, Azad said the then Home Minister had not spoken about the issue in Parliament but at a party forum and that the "NDA Home Minister is talking about it out of context".
He said that a comprhensive discussion should take place and the Prime Minister should share the outcome of his talks with leaders from foreign countries. Azad was critical of the Narendra Modi dispensation for failing to tackle terrorism and Pakistan and claimed that ceasefire violations have increased by a large extent since it came to power. The Gurdaspur terror incident is the latest such attack, he said.