Monday, June 6, 2011

Advani demands apology from Manmohan, Sonia

Special Correspondent
“Crackdown smacks of British action at Jallianwala Bagh”

“I have a feeling June 2011 is going to become another turning point in the country's history”
Wants President to take cognisance of all the events in the last six months

— Photo: S.S. Kumar 

FOR CONCRETE ACTION:Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani addressing a press conference in Chennai on Sunday.
Chennai: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Sunday described the arrest and removal of Baba Ramdev from the site of his hunger strike and the crackdown on his supporters as “naked fascism” and demanded an apology from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Mr. Advani also appealed to President Pratibha Patil to call an emergency session of Parliament to discuss the issue. “This is naked fascism… The Prime Minister and the Congress party president, who is also chairperson of the alliance that she leads, owe an apology for having allowed the police to behave the way they did,” he told reporters.

The former Deputy Prime Minister, who was here to attend a wedding, convened a press conference at a short notice to express his views on the removal of Baba Ramdev from the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi demanding concrete action to bring back black money stashed abroad. He said he was returning to Delhi to participate in the party's deliberations on its course of action.

He expressed surprise that the government, which was negotiating with the yoga guru to persuade him to give up his fast, suddenly cracked down on his supporters. “You not only arrested him, you beat up all the men and women, children and old people… in a manner which reminds me, at least, of the action of the British at Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar.”

Mr. Advani saw a parallel between the midnight swoop and the events of June 1975 when Emergency was imposed and several Opposition leaders were arrested. “I have a feeling June 2011 is also going to become another turning point in the history of the country,” he said.

The President should take cognisance of all the events that took place in the last six months — the surfacing of scams in the conduct of the Commonwealth Games, the allocation 2G spectrum and the use of defence land in Mumbai for a housing colony — and convene an emergency session of Parliament. It should discuss three issues — “how deeply the government is enmeshed in corruption, the issue of black money and the crackdown on those who raised this issue.”

“I request the President that she should not be a passive observer,” Mr. Advani said. “The whole country expects her to be more proactive than she has been.”

Decrying the criticism that Baba Ramdev's movement was backed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mr. Advani said this was nothing new. “Even Jayaprakash Narayan was accused of this [when he led the anti-Emergency movement], but had it not been for the Jan Sangh and the RSS, the Sangh Parivar, Emergency would not have ended.” He expressed surprise that Baba Ramdev was “being abused left and right.” He had great regard for him for taking yoga to the people and also for endorsing his own call for action in 2009 to retrieve black money.

To a question on the Lokpal Bill, Mr. Advani said corruption in the country was not a result of lack of laws, but of the lack of political will to punish offenders, especially if they belonged to one's own party.

Asked if this was not true in the case of the BJP government in Karnataka, he said: “I am not happy with what is happening in Karnataka. The party is taking corrective steps. In other States, where the BJP or NDA (National Democratic Alliance) is in power, their performance is really exemplary.”

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