The Congress on Wednesday went on the offensive as it tried to take the bite out of the BJP’s contention that the ruling coalition was delaying the hanging of Afzal Guru. It stressed that while the action of the Parliament attack convict was “unpardonable”, the law has to take its logical course.
The BJP’s attack over the delay has helped it shift popular attention from the fact that the terror strike took place during the NDA regime and created an impression that the ruling combine is soft-pedalling the Afzal issue. “We are trying to erase that impression,” said a Congress functionary.
At the AICC briefing, spokesman Manish Tiwari took the battle into the BJP camp, raising questions why LK Advani, then deputy PM and home minister, sat on 15 mercy petitions from death row convicts pending with the NDA government.
He said of the 28 mercy petitions pending with the President, one went back to 1997, 15 to the NDA period and 12 to the UPA’s time. According to him, mercy petitions are taken up in the order in which they are filed and the process cannot be short-circuited. Afzal is 27th on the list.