BJP wants immediate decision on Afzal
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BJP wants immediate decision on Afzal

BJP on Wednesday sought immediate decision on the mercy petition for death-row prisoner Mohammad Afzal.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2006 20:08 IST

Seeking the resignation of Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajsekhar Reddy in the light of the Supreme Court overruling clemency for a Congress activist, the BJP on Wednesday sought immediate decision on the mercy petition for death-row prisoner Mohammad Afzal.

Party general secretary Arun Jaitley demanded immediate resignation of Shinde for his decision as then state Governor to reduce sentence of the lifer and Reddy for recommending pardon.

The former Law Minister alleged that both Shinde and Reddy had 'abused' their constitutional powers for their moves to pardon Congress activist Gowru Venkata Reddy sentenced to 10 years in jail for murder.

The BJP leader cited the Supreme Court ruling in the Andhra Pradesh case to press for execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal, an issue he alleged could be used by the Congress-led Centre for political purposes.

Jaitley, whose party is vociferously opposing calls to commute Afzal's death sentence into life imprisonment, maintained that the Supreme Court has set out grounds that do not permit clemency.

"There is no reason now why the government should delay the (Afzal) matter any further," he said.

The saffron party also announced that its state leaders would submit memoranda at Raj Bhavans from Thursday as part of a campaign to oppose mercy for Afzal.

Demonstrations will be held at the BJP's district and tehsil offices in this regard from October 15 to October 19, party spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.

The BJP also stepped up its attack on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad over his mercy calls for Afzal, calling him a "slave to vote-bank politics".

"His plea that Afzal's execution could have an impact on the peace process with Pakistan and could lead to trouble in the state now stands nullified by today's verdict," Javadekar said as he announced party plans to hang on October 20 effigies of the convict if he was not executed on that day.

The BJP, which is using the Afzal row as part of its nationalist plank after its high-pitched Vande Mataram campaign ahead of the Assembly elections, also voiced fears of a delay in the execution could become a security threat.

"In this backdrop, a delay of even a single day is not acceptable to the country. We fear that the government may delay its recommendation to the President and make this an election issue," Javadekar said.

First Published: Oct 11, 2006 20:08 IST