Congress rejected the charge. While Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh called the SIT move “mischievous” and “manufactured”, senior party leader P Chidambaram said the “Special Investigation Team appears to be a Specially Instructed Team”.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters Saturday, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “The reality has been revealed in the affidavit that there was a conspiracy. But who were the ones driving this conspiracy? … Sonia Gandhi tried to malign the image of Gujarat using Ahmed Patel’s name. She tried to dismiss and destabilise the then state government led by Narendra Modi.”
“We want Sonia Gandhi to hold a press conference and address the nation as to why she was conspiring against Modi,” Patra said.
“It was she who hatched a conspiracy to malign Gujarat and corner Modi with the aim to damage him and the BJP to promote her son Rahul Gandhi,” he alleged.
“Patel is just a name. The driving force behind this conspiracy was Sonia Gandhi,” he said.
In a Twitter post, Chidambaram said, “To accuse Ahmed Patel of conspiracy 20 months after his death is part of a vendetta against a political opponent. To allege that Ahmed Patel acted at the instance of Smt Sonia Gandhi is vile and vengeful.”
Jairam Ramesh, in a statement, said the Congress “categorically refutes the mischievous charges manufactured” against the late Ahmed Patel.
“This is part of the Prime Minister’s systematic strategy to absolve himself of any responsibility for the communal carnage unleashed when he was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002. It was his unwillingness and incapacity to control this carnage that had led the then Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to remind the chief minister of his rajdharma.”
Ramesh said, “The Prime Minister’s political vendetta machine clearly does not even spare the departed who were his political adversaries. This SIT is dancing to the tune of its political master and will sit wherever it is told to.”
The new war of words between the BJP and Congress comes amid the questioning of Rahul Gandhi by the Enforcement Directorate and summons to Sonia Gandhi in an alleged money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper.
The Gujarat SIT, probing charges of fabrication of evidence and conspiracy linked to the 2002 riots against activist Teesta Setalvad, retired DGP R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, has stated in an affidavit that they were allegedly part of a “larger conspiracy” for “dismissal or destabilisation” by “hook or by crook” of the then state government — at the “behest” of the late Ahmed Patel.
In Ahmedabad, Gujarat Education Minister and government spokesperson Jitu Vaghani, addressing a press conference Saturday, accused the “Congress gang” and Sonia Gandhi of assisting the “Teesta gang” and alleged that state Congress leaders too had a hand in the alleged conspiracy to defame Modi, the state government and the BJP.
“You all know that Teesta Setalvad’s gang and Congress gang’s support to them, without any shame, with the national president of Congress Sonia (Gandhi) and the national advisor late Ahmed Patel, the kind of conspiracy that was hatched with talk of (transactions of) crores of rupees, has come to the fore in the (SIT) affidavit. Rs 30 lakh was given to defame… Justices Nanavati and Mehta (of Nanavati-Mehta Commission) had given a clean chit (to then CM Modi)… Congress has a mentality of not accepting any other leadership in politics… The Congress till date cannot accept a duly elected government chosen with the blessings of the public and this is unfortunate. The Congress and its leaders have committed the sin of ruining the image of a progressive state like Gujarat,” Vaghani said.
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The Gujarat Congress hit back at Vaghani. State PCC chief Jagdish Thakor told mediapersons: “The rains have caused deaths in Ahmedabad city, Navsari, Valsad, Chhota Udepur, Dang and other districts of Saurashtra. Lakhs have been displaced… Instead of providing solutions, (the BJP is) engaged in political talks, and not of today but of 2002… They (BJP) can see the ground shifting… this issue has been brought up keeping in mind the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha polls.”
Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “At a time when the investigation is ongoing, the SIT affidavit was circulated to make news headlines and distract (people).”
ENS adds from Mumbai: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The Supreme Court judgment has shown how a wider conspiracy was planned to defame the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, and the nation. The court itself has said that an investigation needs to be carried out into this. The investigation is being conducted by the Gujarat SIT and Maharashtra Police will provide all help in ensuring that this investigation is carried to its logical end.”