Armed with fresh revelations in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the BJP on Monday launched a full scale attack on the Congress, accusing it of playing with national security in trying to frame then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference that media reports on Monday established that the first affidavit, which accepted Jahan was an LeT operative and there was a plot to eliminate Modi, was also signed by then home minister P Chidambaram.
“The media reports have now established that it was Chidambaram who also cleared the first affidavit,” she said, accusing the Congress leader of acting at his party chief Sonia Gandhi’s behest to implicate Modi.
Based on RTI disclosures, a TV news channel claimed on Monday that Chidambaram had seen and signed the first affidavit, a fact that he has denied.
“Sonia Gandhi cleverly worked on this. She went around the town claiming an encounter has happened. She worked together with Chidambaram and she cannot isolate herself on this,” Sitharaman said. She alleged that the entire Congress party derived benefit out of this.
Pointing out that the second affidavit, also signed by Chidambaram, had removed reference of Ishrat being an LeT operative and the terror plot theory, the Union minister said the government also mislead the court and the country with two different positions.
“Only one of the affidavits could have been true,” Sitharaman said, adding, “You did not event want to do justice to take care that there was a terror plot to eliminate him. You wanted to underplay it.”
Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said former home minister P Chidambaram cannot escape from the responsibility now.
Rijiju said not only Chidambaram but entire Congress should take responsibility of changing the affidavit in the Ishrat case. He suspected that there was pressure on Chidambaram from elsewhere that made him take the decisions. He accused Chidambaram of failing in his duty as Union home minister by disapproving the intelligence inputs in the Ishrat case. “On policy decision, action cannot be taken against Chidambaram but it needs to be exposed. How can a terrorist be declared as innocent?” he said.
Chidambaram defends statements
Within hours of the BJP onslaught, Chidambaram said he would not like to comment without “perusing the files and the noting”.
“My public statements on why the second affidavit was filed after due and full consultation with the home secretary and the attorney general are self-explanatory. I have nothing to add,” he said in a statement.