Sangli (Maharashtra), Apr 20 (ANI): Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi alleged that former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did not trust his deputy L.K Advani during the 1999 Kandhar hijack episode.
"How did the Home Minister did not come to know or what kind of a Home Minister was he? And if he doesn't know about it, then it only means that the Prime Minister Vajpayee did not trust the Home Minister. It can also mean that they were weak and had to bow down in front of the terrorists," Rahul said, in an obvious reference to Advani's statements that the incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a "weak" candidate for the top post.
Speaking at an election rally here on Sunday, he said there was a rift in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government during the 1999 Kandahar hijack episode.
Five armed men hijacked the Airbus A-300 carrying 189 passengers and crew between Kathmandu and New Delhi on Christmas Eve in 1999.
The plane touched down in western India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates before landing in Kandahar in Afghanistan.
The hijackers killed one passenger early in the week-long stand-off, but the remaining passengers and crew walked free after India released three Kashmir separatist militants from jail.
India said the hijackers, who were never caught, were all Pakistani and accused Pakistan's Government of complicity in the hijacking, charges it denied.
Juxtaposing the Kandahar incident to last year's Mumbai attack, he said the steps taken by Dr. Singh forced Islamabad acknowledge that the attack Mumbai was launched and partly planned from Pakistan,
"The Mumbai attacks made Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exert pressure on Pakistan. For the first time, Pakistan accepted that the terrorists had come from their soil," Gandhi said. (ANI)