BJP questions timing of Tehelka exposé


New Delhi/Ahmedabad : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday questioned the timing of the sting operation – in which Hindu activists allege that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi sanctioned the 2002 riots – and said it would in no way affect their prospects in the December elections.

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Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in the national capital that the BJP had asked the Election Commission to check the attempts at aggravating communal polarisation in the state.

The BJP leader claimed that there were a lot of inaccuracies in the undercover operation by the Tehelka magazine-Headlines Today that has several Hindu leaders not only talking of Modi’s involvement in the riots but also giving a graphic account of the violence and how they killed and looted.

He questioned the timing of the operation – with elections due on Dec 11 and 16 and the model code of conduct already in force.

“Has Tehelka done any sting operation against any Congress government, whether at the state or central levels?” Prasad asked.

He charged Tehelka with acquiring benefits during the Congress regime and said one of Tehelka’s investors, Shankar Sharma, had got heavy tax relief.

According to Prasad, whatever had appeared in the Tehelka tapes telecast on television could be an empty boast or people could have been trapped into making such claims.

He said a judicial process was already underway in Gujarat to punish those guilty of violence. “Court trials are on and a Commission of Inquiry is trying to come out with the truth about what happened there.”

In Ahmedabad, the BJP maintained a cool façade with state party chief Purushottam Rupala saying it would not impact on the party during the elections.

“These issues were the same as those raised during the 2002 elections. The outcome of that poll showed that they did not cut any ice with the electorate. If they did not have any impact then it can hardly have any effect five years later,” Rupala told IANS.

He said the sting had no “evidentiary value” under Indian laws. The various matters raised were already before different courts. The allegations now will certainly have no impact.

While the BJP played it cool, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said they had no comment.

State Congress president Bharat Sinh Solanki could not be reached immediately as he was busy campaigning. And party spokesperson Shakti Sinh Gohil said the AICC in Delhi had already commented on the matter.

“We at the state level are not commenting on the issue,” he said.

Nalin Bhatt who quit the BJP and now heads the BSP in the state also said “no comment”, but added that an “inquiry must be held in the matter”.

“It’s an old story, but it is still shocking to hear it from the individuals (who were involved in the violence),” said B.K. Hariprasad, Congress general secretary and in charge of the party affairs in the state, in Delhi Thursday.