NEW DELHI: Seeking to recover from the embarrassment it suffered on Wednesday when an angry Sonia Gandhi forced L K Advani to withdraw his provocative comment questioning UPA-2′s legitimacy, the BJP tried to get its own back at Congress.
Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday sought to mock the Congress chief for her rare show of aggression, saying she had not been similarly assertive in checking corruptionin the government.
The Advani-Sonia skirmish happened on Wednesday during the debate in Lok Sabha on the ethnic violence in Assam. The BJP veteran had started off well but ended up giving an opening to Congress by making a remark which he could not defend and was forced to withdraw.
Prasad, who is also deputy leader of the party in Rajya Sabha, seemed to be seeking to counter the perception that the proceedings in Lok Sabha had hindered the opposition’s effort to corner the government in the monsoon session. He criticized the Congress chief for not ensuring implementation of the Assam Accord that her late husband Rajiv Gandhi had signed with student leaders of Assam who spearheaded the popular agitation against influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the 1980s.
On the government mishandling the Assam situation, Prasad said, “Ms Sonia Gandhi, please tell the country clearly whether you accept Rajiv Gandhi’s Assam Accord of 1985… Please explain where you stand on the issue. BJP wants the accord to be implemented. Will you tell your government to implement it?”
“If she does not reply to the question or make her stand clear, it will be a clear case of vote bank politics,” Prasad added.
The 1985 accord signed between Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister, and Prafulla Mahanta, then chief minister of Assam, said that those immigrants who came to the state from Bangladesh till 1966 would be given citizenship, those who came between 1967 and 1971 would be allowed to settle down but not given voting rights and those who entered after 1971 would be deported.
“This (not implementing the accord) is a gross case of abuse of power for vote bank politics,” Prasad said.
No steps were taken by successive governments from 1985 to 1997 to implement the accord, Prasad said and insisted that had this been done, the present scenario would be very different in Assam.
He pointed out that the controversial Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983, was scrapped by the Supreme Court and as per the accord, detection would be done on the basis of the Foreigners’ Act of 1946 which puts the onus of proving citizenship on the individual.