Kalia raps Bhattal over comments on Advani's book

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Chandigarh, Apr 12 (UNI) Senior Bharatiya Janata Party Leader and Punjab Local Bodies and Industries Minister Manoranjan Kalia today described as ''laughable and ridiculously ill-informed'' the criticism of veteran BJP leader L K Advani's autobiographical book ''My Country, My Life'' by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

In a press release issued earlier today Ms Bhattal criticised Mr Advani for his remarks pertaining to Operation Blue Star in his autobiography and also accused Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for adopting ''double standards'' with regard to the ''Panthic interests'' by shielding Mr Advani.

Commenting on a statement of Mr Badal defending Mr Advani, Ms Bhattal said Mr Advani had tried to create ''unnecessary havoc'' with his remarks on operation Blue Star in his book.

However, Mr Kalia, in a rebuttal, stressed, ''The book is the strongest proof given by anyone so far that the Punjab tragedy was the result of the anti-Punjab and anti-Sikh policies of the Congress party. It was the Congress, says the book, which started terrorism in the state not only to undercut the Akali influence but also to settle scores between rival groups within the Congress party.'' About who was responsible for Operation Bluestar, Mr Kalia said, ''Mr. Advani's book is the strongest and the most well-documented indictment ever of the Congress role in fomenting violence and communal tension in the state which led to the tragic Operation Blue star.'' Regarding the criticism of Mr. Advani's alleged claim that he ''forced'' Mrs. Indira Gandhi to order the Operation Bluestar, Mr.

Kalia said, ''Not only does Mr. Advani describe Operation Blue Star as the 'most painful moment in India's history' but he emphatically states on page 437 that 'even the need for this operation and all its tragic consequences could easily have been averted.' Even on page 430, which is being brazenly misquoted, Mr. Advani holds Mrs. Gandhi squarely responsible for this painful act, he added.

Quoting the book, he said, ''Given the strategic location of Punjab and the distinctive Sikh history and ethos, the Congress party and its government at the Centre should have shown greater care and sensitivity in dealing with issues relating to the state.

Unfortunately, this was not always the case after India gained Independence.'' Mr. Kalia said that Mr. Advani's book is a tribute to the outstanding bravery, the glory and the patriotism of the Sikhs and the Punjabis.

On page 424, Mr. Advani writes, ''No other land has made more sacrifices for India both before and after Independence than Punjab. No other community has fought more bravely for the protection of Hindus and Hinduism than the Sikhs.'' Mr Kalia also advised the critics of the book ''to at least take the trouble of reading it before commenting on its contents.'' UNI JN VN1929

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