Rahul Gandhi Attacks Advani over Kandahar Hijack

Launching a stinging attack on NDA shadow prime minister LK Advani, Congress parliamentarian and scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political legacy, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the BJP leader was either not telling the truth over the Kandahar hijack episode or he was not trusted by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Advaniji says he did not know about the decision to release terrorists in the Kandahar case. The youth of this country want to know why he did not know about such an important issue. There can only be two things – either Vajpayeeji did not trust him or he (Advani) is not telling the truth,” Rahul Gandhi was quoted as saying at an election meeting in the Sikh holy town of Talwandi Sabo in Punjab.

The 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight culminated in the release of dreaded terrorists in exchange of hostages, prominent among those freed by the then NDA government as Maulana Masood Azhar, known to be the chief of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

Rahul Gandhi’s attack on Advani comes close on the heels of similar tirade he launched in Kochi on Monday.

Attempting to strike an emotional note with his audience, Rahul Gandhi, in his first pre-election meeting in the state, described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as “Sher-e-Punjab” (lion of Punjab) and the “pride of Punjab, Sikhs and India.”

Rahul Gandhi’s statements are an ostensible effort to defend Premier Singh, who has come in for severe flak from the BJP in recent weeks.

Sporting a saffron coloured Sikh turban, Rahul Gandhi started his speech by greeting his audience on the occasion of Baisakhi.

“Main tuhwanu saareyan nu Baisakhi di lakh-lakh vadhayee deendah haan,” said Gandhi, who termed Punjab as a “holy land.”

Coming out in full support of Premier Singh, Rahul Gandhi recounted several schemes launched by the UPA government at the Centre and accused the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance state government of blocking the benefits of central schemes from reaching the ‘Aam Aadmi’ in the state.

Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state comes days after the province witnessed protests against the CBI clean chit to party leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, who face serious allegations of involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that rocked the country and especially Delhi in the aftermath of then prime minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

The protests subsided only after the Congress withdrew the candidature of Tytler and Kumar, but analysts say the damage may well have been done for the factionalism-hit Congress in the state.

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