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Terror is the key in Cong-BJP poll battle

The Congress takes on the BJP for accusing the Centre of going soft on terrorism and topped up its defence with counter-charges, report Aloke Tikku and Hemendra S Bartwal.
Hindustan Times | By Aloke Tikku and Hemendra S Bartwal
UPDATED ON FEB 09, 2008 12:43 AM IST

Preparing the groundwork for the 10 assembly polls this year, the Congress took on the BJP for accusing the UPA government of going soft on terrorism and topped up its defence with counter-charges that fewer people were dying in terrorist-related violence during its regime than during the NDA’s.

The Congress also fielded its junior minister in the home ministry, Sriprakash Jaiswal, to repeat charges previously made by its leaders that Afzal Guru — the prime accused in the Parliament attack case sentenced to the gallows — had been released from detention two months before the attack.

Jaiswal declared that he would reveal the details within 24 hours.

The BJP rejected the charge, saying, “Afzal was rounded up for questioning on 11 occasions by the J&K police between 1993 and 1997 on grounds of suspicious activity. Again, in 2001, he was rounded up for interrogation by the J&K police but was not formally charged,” BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

“The difference clearly lies in the approach. The Congress lacks commitment and conviction to firmly act and wage a determined war against anti-national subversive forces as compared to the nationalist BJP which has a history of taking strong-willed decisions backed by definite action,” Prasad said, following up on LK Advani’s rally in Jabalpur this.

Earlier, Jaiswal said, "It seems that Advani's intention is to generate insecurity by talking of terrorism. Such statements should not be merely denied, but strongly condemned," Jaiswal said at a press conference on Friday where he blamed Advani for Afzal’s release.

By highlighting Afzal’s detention and release before the attack, Jaiswal had hoped to take the sting out of the BJP onslaught. Like many others on death row, Afzal’s clemency plea pending before the government has kept him away from the gallows. The BJP has been projecting the “delay” as an indicator of the Centre’s soft stance on terrorism.

The minister said there has been a 70 per cent improvement in the situation in J&K, no deterioration in the Northeast and most of the Naxal violence was reported from states such as Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, where non-UPA formations are in power. "Unfortunately, the party of the PM-in-Waiting is in power in these states… He can at least ask the chief ministers to control the problem," Jaiswal said sarcastically.

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