With Congress leader Kamal Nath resigning as the party in charge of Punjab affairs, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday said the move simply proved his complicity in the 1984 riots, adding that the grand old party had “teased” the people of Punjab by appointing him despite knowing his involvement in the riots.
“Two things have come to the fore: first, it is the acceptance of the guilt, which proves there was the complicity of Kamal Nath in the 1984 riots; and, by appointing him as Punjab in-charge, the Congress was teasing the people of the state, which was appalling,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
“Secondly it shows the dearth of leadership in the Congress, because knowing the fact that his name has cropped up in the riots case, he was made the in charge. This happened probably because there was no other leader left in the Congress. That’s why the Congress took such an appalling step and today the Congress stands exposed,” said Patra, while reacting to Kamal Nath’s resignation.
Kamal Nath, whose appointment had drawn criticism from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), stepped down as the general secretary in-charge of the Punjab Affairs following a controversy over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
In a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Kamal Nath had on Wednesday requested her to relieve him from his duties so that the attention of the party is not diverted from the real issues such as the ‘rampant drug trade’ in Punjab.
“Certain elements are raking up these issues now only for political gains. I am touched by the support shown by our party workers and leaders in Punjab in repudiating the false accusations. I am a practitioner of Nehruvian politics and maligning of the Congress party using false accusations is unacceptable to me,” Nath said in the letter.
Hoping that the party focuses on the upcoming elections rather than the furore over his appointment, he added that the Congress must highlight the issues of mis-governance, misery of farmers and youth, break down of law and order and rampant drug trade that caused misery to the people of Punjab.
“Given this, I request that I may be relieved of my charge to ensure that the attention is not diverted from the real issues facing Punjab,” Nath said.
Several state Congress leaders and Nath himself had claimed that he had been absolved by the Nanavati Commission that probed the killings, which had followed the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by her Sikh bodyguards. But the emotive issue could have rocked the boat of the Congress in the assembly elections that are barely six months away.
Immediately since the appointment, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), its partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were unsparing in their attack on Nath, who had admitted before the commission that he was present outside Gurdwara Rakabganj when a mob had set it on fire after killing a father-son duo on November 1, 1984.