Congress downplays Afzal interview

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New Delhi, Jun 9 (UNI) Seeking to downplay the controversial interview of Parliament attack convict Mohammed Afzal Guru preferring the noose rather than uncertainty of life on the death row, the Congress today said it did not know the "basis of authenticity" of the report.

"We cannot react to the interview as we don't know its basis and whether Afzal had spoken on record,"AICC Spokesperson Jayanthi Nataraajan told mediapersons.

She, however, denied the allegation that the execution of Afzal, convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case, was deliberately delayed by the Congress-led UPA government as it did not want to earn the wrath of the minorities ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.

"It is not the Congress which takes decisions on such matters.

There is a process of law. There is a constitutional process outside the process of law. The government will have to follow it." Asked if the Congress doubted the authenticity of the reports that had appeared in the press on the basis of the purported interview, she said : "I don't know the basis of authenticity of the report. I don't know how the interview was obtained. I will not be able to comment on a subject about which I don't have details." In the interview, Afzal had reportedly said he wanted BJP leader L K Advani to become Prime MInister and hang him.

Afzal's statement had brought embarrassment to the UPA government as it sought to question the decision making capability of the dispensation.

"I don't think the UPA government can ever reach a decision. I wish L K Advani becomes India's next Prime Minister as he is the only one who can take a decision and hang me. At least, my pain would ease then," Afzal was quoted by the agency as saying.

The BJP, which had been demanding early execution of Afzal, had used his interview to taunt the Congress saying that even a convict did not seem to have faith in the sincerity of the ruling party and its ability to take decisions.

UNI SH RR HT1858

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