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BJP says Rahul Gandhi ‘doing drama’ after he visits Vajpayee’s samadhi; demands apology from Cong over controversial tweet


NEW DELHI: The BJP on Monday attacked the Congress and demanded an apology over unsavoury remarks made against former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee by a leader attached to the Congress chief’s office, even as the opposition party distanced itself from the controversy.

Gaurav Pandhi, who is a coordinator with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s office and handles social media for him, had put out a tweet alleging that Vajpayee had sided with the British. He later deleted it as the BJP accused Rahul Gandhi of “doing a drama” of paying homage at Vajpayee’s memorial while party leaders use “abusive words” against the former prime minister.

On Monday morning, Rahul Gandhi visited the ‘samadhi’ of Mahatma Gandhi and several former prime ministers, including Vajpayee whose birth anniversary was on Sunday.

The Congress noted that Pandhi has since deleted the controversial tweet and asserted that the party’s stand and that of Rahul Gandhi are the same.

BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala demanded that the Congress should apologise for Pandhi’s remarks, “else one will be forced to believe that the words of Congress leader Gaurav Pandhi are Rahul Gandhi’s thoughts”.

Another party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said Vajpayee was an epitome of honesty and a messenger of peace, while Rahul Gandhi was involved in “defaming” India and “spreading hatred”.

“Gaurav Pandhi has deleted his tweet but that is not enough. Congress must clarify its stand and apologise. Must sack serial offender Pandhi. Or else we will be forced to believe that ”Shabd Pandhi ke, soch Rahul Gandhi ki’…,” Poonawala said on Twitter.

“Atal ji is an epitome of honesty, dedication to the nation & a messenger of peace. Rahul Gandhi at ‘Sadaiv Atal’ is corruption kneeling before honesty. The question is whether he has walked the path taught by him. From defaming India, supporting ‘tukde tukde’ gang Rahul Gandhi only spreads hatred,” Bhatia tweeted.

He also alleged that Rahul Gandhi is “doing a drama”. “On one hand Rahul Gandhi goes to Atal Sadaiv to pay homage and on the other hand party leaders use abusive words”, he said.

Asked about Pandhi’s tweet, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said a lot is being made out about somebody’s tweet.

“I think when Rahul Gandhi stands up for something then it is the party’s stand.

“The person in question has also deleted it, to the best of my knowledge, but that is not the issue.

“The issue is that when Rahul Gandhi goes and pays homage at the ‘samadhi’ of whether Rajiv Ji or Indira Ji or Shastri Ji, Nehru Ji, Mahatma, Chaudhary Charan Singh or even Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji, he is actually paying homage to each and every individual who has built this country,” she said.

The Congress leader also said that Vajpayee had told the then Gujarat Chief Minister in 2002 and today’s prime minister to follow “Raj Dharma”, which was to follow the Constitution.

“It is a pity, Mr Modi never learnt that lesson and he has kept the Constitution at bay. We only hope and pray that today after seeing Rahul Ji at Atal Ji’s samadhi, Mr. Modi will realise that his utmost duty is to safeguard the Constitution and stop the violence in his name that’s happening and I think, that is the message that Shri Rahul Gandhi was trying to deliver,” she said. Shrinate said Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo is about a confluence of all kinds of ideologies and when Vajpayee told Modi to follow the ‘Raj Dharma’, “he was safeguarding the Constitution and Mr. Gandhi’s presence at Atal Ji’s Samadhi is a mark of that respect”. (PTI)

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