Cong doubts seriousness of Vajpayee's 'Rajdharma' remarks

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee
New Delhi, Jun 30: Congress on Saturday hit out at former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee casting doubts on the seriousness of his famous 'Rajdharma' remarks in the context of the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.

Referring to media reports quoting a book by APJ Abdul Kalam, suggesting that Vajpayee was not keen on the former President visiting Gujarat at that time, party spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, "It makes one wonder whether there was any seriousness in the 'Rajdharma' statement (of Vajpayee) or was it only for public consumption."

Vajpayee had asked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to follow the 'Rajdharma' in the aftermath of the post-Godhra flare-up.

The Congress spokesperson pointed out that excerpts from the book has led to an understanding that "at the highest level of the NDA government an attempt was made to prevent the then President from travelling to Gujarat in the wake of Gujarat massacre."

Tiwari was reacting to media reports based on excerpts from Kalam's book Turning Points: A Journey Through Challenges, which also says that the former President was ready to swear in Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister after the 2004 polls.

Reacting to this portion of Kalam's book, which suggests that Kalam was willing to allow Sonia Gandhi to take over as Prime Minister despite opposition from certain quarters, including BJP, over her foreign origin status, Tiwari said, "There was certain right-wing conspiracy theories who believe in tilting the windmill and living in their own world of imagination. I hope this will disabuse their mind completely."

However, the Congress spokesperson said there is nothing new in what has come out through the book on the issue.

"We respect Abdul Kalam very much. His book has not come out in the market, but certain excerpts have been published. What is apparent does not require any evidence. The entire country knows that Congress and UPA had chosen Gandhi as their leader and she would have definitely become Prime Minister, had she wanted so.

"There is nothing new in whatever has been published. The sequence of the entire event had played out in public space," Tiwari said.

To a question whether UPA's decision on Presidential poll this time could have been different had this book come out in public domain earlier, Tiwari suggested that such a possibility was unlikely.

"On the President's election the UPA has been very clear from the very beginning. One that the tradition which has been continuing from the beginning should be respected. And second it should be a UPA candidate and hence Pranab Mukherjee's candidature was finalised," Tiwari said.

Kalam had become the country's President while the NDA was in power at the Centre.

Tiwari also chose the occasion to renew the party's appeal to Trinamool Congress as well as other parties which have not yet come out in Mukherjee's support.

"Those who have not made up their mind as well as those who are required to visit their positions keeping the political reality in mind, I hope they will decide in Mukherjee's favour so that he can become President with a huge majority," Tiwari said.

PTI

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