Thursday, Sep 05, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
Though the Congress was quick to react to reports of the VHP international working president, Ashok Singhal, making such comments at a meeting in Amritsar on Tuesday, the action sought by the party against what it calls "evidence'' of the Sangh agenda is a considerable climbdown from earlier demands for a ban on the saffron outfit.
Quizzed about this apparent climbdown, the party spokesman, Anand Sharma, said: "We are testing the Government; let us see what action it takes in the wake of this confession by Mr. Singhal and the threat held out by him for the future.'' In particular, the Congress is keen to see how the Home Ministry under the Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani, reacts to Mr. Singhal's statements.
After all, according to the Congress, Mr. Advani had called the Gujarat violence a "shame'' and said "it was indefensible'' during his recent visit to London. "We want to see whether he stands up to the position he took in London. If he does not act now, then it would be a confirmation that he subscribes to the VHP agenda and its future gameplan.''
Meanwhile, the veteran Congress leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker, Balram Jakhar, took a tougher position and demanded that the Prevention of Terrorism Act be used against Mr. Singhal and the VHP. Of the view that Mr. Singhal's observations violated not just the Constitution but also the human spirit, and was "anti-religion'', he pondered aloud: "If this kind of person is allowed to go scot-free, then what is POTA for?''
On Tuesday, Mr. Singhal was quoted as saying that "we were successful in our experiment of raising Hindu consciousness, which will be repeated all over the country now."
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