New Delhi, Aug 29: Slamming Rahul Gandhi for his attack on the government over the arrest of five Left-wing activists for their alleged links with Naxals, the BJP said the Congress chief has ended up protecting Naxalism and terrorism in his zeal to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra said two of the activists were arrested when Congress was in power for their alleged Naxal links. He also read from a government affidavit filed then in court in which Naxal sympathisers, who "worked under the garb of NGOs", were dubbed more dangerous than armed guerrillas.
Gandhi now does not agree with the stand of his own government and is calling them 'champions of human rights', Patra said, noting that then prime minister Manmohan Singh had called Naxalism the biggest threat to the country's internal security. The BJP stands by people's right to dissent, but not "disintegration of the motherland", he asserted.
While the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government pitched for legal action against Naxal sympathisers who were penetrating urban areas and worked as front organisations of Maoists, Gandhi is "most troubled" when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has acted against them, Patra claimed. "It is a new low for the Congress. It is working to finish off itself. It is no longer a mainstream party, but has become a fringe party...Naxals are Naxals when you arrest them, but they become HR (human rights) activists when we arrest them," the BJP leader told a press conference.
Maharashtra Police arrested Telugu poet Varavara Rao, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha yesterday for their alleged Naxal links and in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence. Gandhi had hit out at the Centre over the arrests, saying in "new India, there was place for only one NGO -- the RSS".
"There is only place for one NGO in India and it is called the RSS. Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India," he said. Patra said Varavara Rao had been arrested earlier as well, while Vernon Gonzalves was convicted.
Gautam Navalakha has had links with Kashmiri separatists, he alleged. The BJP spokesperson added that the police have spoken about a conspiracy by Naxals to assassinate the prime minister and wondered if Gandhi lacked the sensitivity to appreciate the threat as India has lost two prime ministers to violence. "Gandhi speaks of Islamic State and Muslim Brotherhood abroad and talks of protecting Naxals in India," he quipped. "Do you want to stand with those who want to balkanise India?" Patra added.