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National Security Advisor meets Advani

National Security Advisor MK Narayanan on Friday assured Leader of Opposition LK Advani that the government would probe allegations of torture against the ATS levelled by Malegaon blasts accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Shekhar Iyer reports.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2008 17:06 IST
Shekhar Iyer

As directed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, National Security Advisor MK Narayanan on Friday assured Leader of

Advani sidelights

L K Advani disclosed he was offered 10, Janpath where Sonia Gandhi resides presently, when he became Leader of Opposition when Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress backed Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister in 1990. But he had declined. Advani said this while referring how "!0, Janpath" had come to be known as the real centre of power under the UPA's rule because of "devaluation" of the office of the Prime Minister.

The BJP's Prime Minister believes media photographers love to click him to show he's scratching his head or using his cellphone or digital diary. He recalled how a newspaper had published a picture way back in 1985 showing him using a digital diary, with a caption, "Is this swadeshi?"

Advani thinks that while America is rightly proud today that a person of African-American origin made it to the White House, election of a Muslim president or chief justice is no big deal because the country's cultural ethos allows respect for all faiths and equality. "It is seen as more natural thing to happen here – unlike in America, it is a big change."

Advani favours the optimist. He said he strongly believed that India would overcome the present economic crisis and the fallout of the global meltdown because "India's potential is so big. There is no reason to be pessimistic. Our job when we come to power is to dissipate the present gloom and regenerate hope and confidence."

Opposition LK Advani that the government would probe allegations of torture against the Maharashtra anti-terror squad (ATS) levelled by Malegaon blasts accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

Advani told Narayanan and Intelligence Bureau Director P.C. Haldar that the BJP and he would not stand in the way of any professional probe into acts of terror. Former IB director Ajit Doval was also present during the 40-minute meeting.

Narayanan met Advani to brief him on the Malegaon probe and redress his apprehension, which he had conveyed to the Prime Minister, who called on him to know why he had issued a statement in support of the sadhvi’s affidavit filed in a Nashik court.

“Advani told the NSA that his charges against the ATS were confined to and based on the details mentioned by the Sadhvi in her affidavit. He clarified that it had nothing to do with the investigation,” BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters after the meeting.

Advani’s concern, he is said to have conveyed to the security officials, was limited to the sadhvi’s allegations of torture in police custody. And that the ATS probe should not have political overtones by way of leaks to the media.

Meanwhile, senior BJP and RSS leaders dismissed the ATS’s allegations that some accused in the Malegaon blast were planning to target senior sangh leaders. It had no evidence to back its line of probe against Hindu groups, RSS national executive member Ram Madhav told Hindustan Times. “What is the need for the ATS to feed a new story about a plot to kill Sangh leaders after earlier stories to link the accused with the RSS? If there is evidence, present it before the court. Stop defaming Hindu groups. Do a professional investigation,” Madhav said.

In Nagpur, RSS ideologue and former Sangh spokesman MG Vaidya said there was no evidence to back the ATS’s theory. “I don’t think there is any substance in the claim.”

Rudy said the Congress was using the probe to defame the BJP: “The whole ATS probe is so full of contradictions, it has lost direction.”

With Pradip Kumar Maitra in Nagpur