Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Nitin Gadkari on Sunday categorically rejected demands for an apology over terming parliament attack convict Afzal Guru as the "son-in-law" of the ruling Congress, saying he would repeat the comment "a thousand times" if terrorists are protected for the sake of vote bank politics.
Noting that Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit had herself conceded that the state government was sitting over Guru's file for almost four years following promptings from the union home ministry, Gadkari said: "It's they and not me, who should apologise to the nation for not carrying out Guru's death sentence for so long".
"When I asked whether the terrorist has any relation with them, they got angry. But I will repeat such comment a thousand times so long they continue to give protection to terrorists for the sake of votebank politics," Gadkari said, addressing party workers in Kolkata.
Ruling out any apology from his party, the BJP president said: "It's the Congress who should apologise to the sisters and mothers of the troopers who laid down the lives while defending parliament from the terrorist attack."
He said that some time back, exasperated over the inordinate delay in meting out punishment to Guru, these relatives of the martyred Indian troopers had wanted to return the gallantry medals given posthumously. "A terrorist is a terrorist. He has no caste, creed, religion and sex," he said.
Last Thursday, addressing a rally in Dehradun, Gadkari had attacked the Congress over the delay in executing the death sentence of Afzal Guru.
"I want to ask Congress leaders is Afzal Guru your son-in-law?... Why is he being given special treatment?" he had asked. The BJP president said the Congress was a "party of people without guts" which could not fight terrorism.
Afzal Guru was sentenced to death for his role in the Dec 13, 2001, attack on parliament. He has filed a mercy petition with the president.
Ridiculing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's economic policies, Gadkari said according to experts, more than half of India now lives below the poverty line and cannot even afford to earn Rs.20 a day for sustenance.
He said 230 districts in the country were now Maoist-infested. "On the other hand, Pakistan is carrying on a proxy war from across the border. Both our internal and external security is in peril".
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat decried India's policy on Kahsmir as propounded by first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. "Whenever the Congress governments at the centre have throttled the voice of the patriots in the Kashmir Valley and encouraged secessionist forces for political considerations, the conditions in Kashmir have deteriorated."
"On the contrary, whenever some other party in Delhi has propped up a strong nationalist leadership, the situation has improved," Bhagwat said.