While pledging support for two crucial bills introduced in parliament on Wednesday to fight terrorism, opposition leader LK Advani accused the ruling coalition of having been "soft on terror" and said only the Mumbai terror attacks spurred it into action.
Speaking soon after Home Minister P Chidambaram appealed to all Lok Sabha members to pass the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) bills, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Advani said the government had woken up too late.
"I cannot express happiness but I express satisfaction today. You have on Wednesday admitted that the government was wrong for 10 years and will rectify mistakes. You have woken up from Kumbhakaran's sleep. I want that you admit that you were wrong," said Advani.
"You attacked us (BJP) as if we have committed a crime when we ushered in The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA)," while referring to the amendments that the government hoped to pass in the UAPA that many analysts see as a watered down version of POTA. POTA was enacted by the BJP in March 2002.
"The dimension of the Mumbai attack needed to be looked at differently as terrorists identified foreign nationals in The Taj hotel and The Oberoi Trident and killed them.
"We have woken up because not India but the whole world thinks that we are soft on terror and Mumbai is what made us act."
The bill to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has stringent provisions, including a detention period of 180 days, instead of the present 90 days and denial of bail altogether to a foreigner accused of terrorism in India.
The amendments also provide for freezing, seizing and attaching funds and other financial assets or economic resources held by individuals or entities engaged in or suspected to be engaged in terrorism.
"The law to fight terrorism is a law against terror. I hope you will not claim that the earlier law was communal while this one is a secular law. Keep these glasses aside and see (the anti-terror law) independently to combat terror," exhorted Advani.
"You have harmed the country by seeing the law through the prism of minority and majority."
Advani also hoped that provisions relating to interception of messages would be included in the bill and also that confessions before a police officer would be admissible evidence.
"The country is outraged by what is happening and has happened. Their anger is justified. Terrorism is a special evil."
Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Advani said he was amazed when the former agreed to a joint mechanism with Pakistan to fight terror.