New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) Attacking Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley over his denial of the comments he allegedly made on the party’s stand on Hindu nationalism, the Congress Sunday said it was time the BJP admitted that it had used religion as an “opportunistic tool”.
“We are surprised by Arun Jaitley regarding the WikiLeaks expose… Nobody is surprised by the leaks. It is known to everybody in the country that BJP always used religion for political gains,” Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told IANS.
He said that the main opposition party, which had disrupted parliament’s proceedings over the WikiLeaks expose relating to the cash-for-votes controversy, was now denying the contents of the leaks of US diplomatic cables.
“The negation has not served any purpose…Time has come for Jaitley and his party to accept openly that they have used religion as an opportunistic tool,” Ahmed said.
He was referring to a leaked US diplomatic cable of May 2005 which gives a purported account of a conversation between Jaitley and a US embassy official in New Delhi.
According to the leaked cable, Jaitley said that Hindu nationalism was an opportunistic issue for the party and something that helped it to garner votes.
Jaitley Saturday said that use of word “opportunistic” in reference to nationalism or Hindu nationalism was neither his view nor his language and could be the diplomat’s own language.
WikiLeaks had also leaked a 2005 cable about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh purportedly telling BJP leader Jaswant Singh that he cannot rely on anyone in the United Progressive Alliance for advice except P. Chidambaram, who was then the finance minister and is now the home minister.
Referring to this, the Congress spokesman said that the party has long maintained that the “cables are unverified and unverifiable.”
Ahmed, who is the party in-charge of poll-bound West Bengal, gave a similar reply to a question about the assessment in a leaked cable that the hopes of the Congress party had shifted to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after party leader Rahul Gandhi’s alleged gaffes in 2007.
“The Congress stand has been that the cables are unverified and unverifiable. It is the BJP which has treated them as gospel truth,” Ahmed said.
Communications Minister Kapil Sibal also attacked Jaitley over his denial and said the BJP leader should seek apology from the people.
“This is very, very serious. This means that a political party (BJP) is using Hindutva as an opportunistic issue. Because of this opportunism thousands lost their lives,” Sibal told reporters here Sunday, referring to the “rath yatra” of then BJP president L.K. Advani.
He said the BJP should explain what is its real ideology.
“This means (opposition to) Article 370 and (demand for) Uniform Civil Code are also opportunistic,” he said.
“The Babri masjid issue was also opportunism to mislead the people,” he said.
“The Congress has been saying for years that the BJP is misleading the people. Even its ideology is such that they say something in front of the people and something behind their backs,” Sibal added.