Three and a half years after veteran jurist Ram Jethmalani said in Rajya Sabha that Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru did not get a fair trial and should not be hanged, the decision of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to give him a Rajya Sabha ticket from Rajasthan appears to have led to a change of heart.
<b1>Completely disowning his earlier statement, the former law minister on Monday blamed the media for not having correctly understood the meaning of his speech in the House.
“I am in complete agreement with the BJP’s stand that Guru is a terrorist and such suicide bombers should get death punishment,” Jethmalani, 87, told HT.
The BJP, which has consistently slammed the UPA government for delaying the punishment, ducked the issue. “Since he is now in the party, our stand is his stand too,” said party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Asked about his speech in Rajya Sabha on November 28, 2006, Jethmalani, who returned to the BJP last week after nearly a decade, said the media failed to “get the intent” of what he said.
“How can I be blamed if the media has lost its sense of humour? What I had said was that such indoctrinated elements (like Afzal) shouldn’t be allowed to die easily, but they should made to rot in jails,” he said.
This, however, does not match the official version of his 2006 speech. He was then a nominated member, a position reportedly given to him by the UPA under pressure from then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad.