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Sonia defends freedom of expression; flays Modi, BJP

Last updated on: May 16, 2007 17:22 IST
Warning that the Bharatiya Janata Party will raise communal tensions and passions in Gujarat ahead of the assembly elections, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today came down heavily on the saffron government there on the issue of fake encounter killings and the attacks on religious minorities and freedom of expression.

She also asked the Central government to take serious note of these "dangerous trends."

Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party in New Delhi, Gandhi said the nation was witnessing shocking revelations on the manner in which sections of the Gujarat police have been allowed to kill innocent people in the garb of fighting terrorism.

"It is apparent that these sections enjoy high-level patronage. This reflects utter and deliberate contempt for the rule of law to promote ideological prejudices. This also reflects the blatantly partisan attitude of the state government where an issue of human rights has been given a communal colour," she said.

Very soon, Gandhi said, elections are to be held in Gujarat and the BJP would undoubtedly raise communal tensions and passions.

"We did well in 2004 Lok Sabha elections. This gives us both hope and confidence that the people of the state which gave birth to the father of the nation will vote for strengthening Gujarat's traditions and secularism and social harmony," Gandhi said.

Referring to the June elections in Goa, she said there too Congress was confronting the BJP whose single point programme was communal polarisation.

Apparently referring to the controversy over "moral policing" of an art exhibition in M S University in Vadodara, Gandhi said she was very concerned at the continuing attack on the freedom of expression that has been seen of late in some parts of the country.

"This kind of extreme intolerance goes against the very spirit of our democracy," Gandhi said.

She said attacks and atrocities on religious minorities in BJP-ruled states have continued unabated.

"Our party organisation in these states has exposed the communal designs of the BJP but I do feel that Central government should take serious note of these dangerous trends," she said.

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