The opposition parties on Monday made a scathing attack in Lok Sabha on the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Sangh Parivar outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad accusing them of attempting to foment trouble in Gujarat ahead of assembly election.
Participating in a discussion on an adjournment motion on the Gujarat situation, some of them even demanded the detention of controversial VHP leaders like Pravin Togadia till the completion of the poll process.
The motion, moved by Subodh Roy (Communist Party of India-Marxist), was to highlight the 'failure of the government in curbing communal elements in the country, especially in Gujarat'.
Roy, who initiated the discussion, and Pravin Rashtrapal (Congress) faulted the BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits for assailing constitutional authorities like the Election Commission and alleged these were 'fascist' tactics.
The CPI-M member said the VHP took out the yatra on Sunday defying the directive of the Election Commission and disregarding the prime minister's appeal to desist from such a move.
He said the VHP was using a ploy like the yatra to help the BJP, which is a 'sinking ship' in Gujarat after a string of defeats in several states. The motion was taken up immediately after Question Hour.
Alleging that the BJP and the VHP were hand-in-glove, Roy regretted that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not condemn the actions of the VHP despite people being 'fed up with its misdeeds'.
Roy as also Rashtrapal said the BJP was neglecting key issues like development. "The saffron rule has not paid attention to problems of people like drinking water, unemployment and drought in Gujarat," they said.
The CPI-M member made a strong plea for continuing relief camps in Gujarat. Rashtrapal attacked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for targeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi repeatedly.
Countering opposition charges, V K Malhotra (BJP) accused the Congress of attempting to polarise people in Gujarat for the sake of power. Alleging that Congress has a 'tainted record', he said the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 were a clear indicator in this regard.
He said instead of attacking the BJP and the VHP, opposition parties should compliment them for ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in Gujarat in recent days despite incidents like the terrorist strike at Akshardham.
Certain remarks by Malhotra against Congress led to acrimonious scenes with Congress members protesting and making counter accusations. Malhotra alleged Congress was speaking in the same tone as that of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on developments in Gujarat.
He spoke of poll surveys, which predicted a defeat for Congress in the state.
Taking an aggressive line, Rashtrapal warned that some of those in the ruling benches who were encouraging attempts to divide people in the name of religion would be behind bars once the Congress comes back to power.
Deprecating the language used by Togadia against Sonia Gandhi, the Congress member said if such words had been used against his mother, he would have killed that person. He termed as improper repeated references by Modi to the Pakistan President as 'Mian Musharraf', saying India was still maintaining diplomatic ties with Islamabad and such utterances were undignified.
The Congress member asked the prime minister and other central leaders to rein in provocative language and actions of leaders of the VHP.
Shiv Sena member Chandrakant Khaire accused the Congress and other opposition parties of remaining silent on the Godhra carnage which, he contended, was the cause of subsequent happenings in the state.
Stoutly opposing this, Congress chief whip P R Dasmunsi said his party president was among the first to condemn the incident. Rupchand Pal, CPI-M, charged both the prime minister and the deputy prime minister with justifying the actions of Modi and the frontal organisations of the BJP in pursuit of their 'hidden Hindutva agenda'.
He accused the Gujarat chief minister and the VHP leaders of targeting Muslim and Christian communities.
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