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"Advani not behind Vajpayee during Kandahar crisis"

Lashing out at BJP leader L K Advani, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Sunday accused the saffron party stalwart of not standing behind his Prime Minister during the Kandahar hijack crisis.
By Amitabh Shukla | PTI, Roorkie
UPDATED ON MAY 10, 2009 11:09 PM IST

Lashing out at BJP leader L K Advani, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Sunday accused the saffron party stalwart of not standing behind his Prime Minister during the Kandahar hijack crisis.

"The strong leader did not know that terrorists were being released. When we asked, he (Advani) said Vajpayee did it. A leader who is strong always stands by his Prime Minister...He should have resigned," Gandhi said ridiculing Advani's claim of being a strong leader.

Campaigning for Congress' Haridwar parliamentary constituency candidate Harish Rawat, Gandhi wondered how Advani could "blame" Vajpayee for this as he is no longer in politics.

"But they say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is weak. When the nuclear deal was being signed, I went to Prime Minister Singh. He said even if the Left did not support the government, let it fall as the future of power generation and technology was at stake," he said insisting that such was the strength of Singh.

Advocating for a new orientation for development in Uttarakhand, Gandhi said in the last 25 years in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, governments came and went but did nothing for the development of the state.

Uttarakhand was a part of UP till the year 2000.

"We do not do the politics of caste, we do not do the politics of religion. We have to do politics for development of Uttarakhand," Rahul said charging the BJP government of the state with stalling progress in the last over two years since it came to power.

In his speech, Gandhi lampooned the 'India Shining' slogan of BJP in the 2004 elections, accusing the saffron party of "creating two Indias: one for the rich and the other for the common people".

"We ran a government for the common people in the last five years. We gave a growth rate of nine per cent. During NDA it was only five per cent...We did it with your (common man) participation," he said.

Gandhi listed the UPA's flagship NREGA programme and loan waiver scheme for farmers as examples of the concern of Congress for the common people, farmers and workers.

Pitching for farmers, Gandhi said "this country cannot run without farmers. The farmers give us food. If they give us food, we need to give them respect," he added.

Gandhi alleged that BJP never talked about the issues of the poor, including farmers and backward classes, in the election campaign, but talked about terrorism.

"My father died. My grandmother died due to terrorism. We know what terrorism is. Our people have died but we never bowed before terrorists, nor will we ever bow before them," he said in reference to release of terrorists during the Kandahar hijack episode.

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