New Delhi : The Congress and BJP on Saturday sparred over terror allegations against Ahmed Patel, with the ruling party on Saturday seeking clarifications from Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the allegations against her political secretary. The Congress said the BJP was “rattled” at the prospect of defeat in Gujarat and was thus making “baseless” charges against the leader.
The BJP said if the Congress doesn’t come clean on the issue then it will be linked to terrorism by people.
The Congress said the BJP was trying to take revenge against Ahmed Patel for the Rajya Sabha election defeat and they “should refrain from politicising the issue” and not link it with the Gujarat elections.
“The investigative agencies have arrested an IS suspect from a hospital in Gujarat. Ahmed Patel is associated with the hospital. Congress will have to answer. It cannot run away,” Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said at a press conference.
He said that Congress President and Vice President Rahul Gandhi need to come forward and clarify on the matter.
“Terror suspect’s link to hospital is a serious issue. It’s a matter of national security. We want Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to give clarification,” he said.
The Minority Affairs Minister said that the NDA government has adopted a zero tolerance policy against terrorism and hit out at the Congress leadership for defending Patel.
“After a few days people will start saying ‘Congress ka hath Aatank ke sath’ like they used to say earlier ‘Congress ka hath corruption ke sath’. People are questioning Ahmed Patel’s links to the IS operatives. Congress has a history of favouring anti-national elements,” he said.
Referring to Mohammed Qasim Stimberwala, one of the two alleged IS operatives arrested by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad from Surat on Wednesday, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had demanded resignation of Patel from the Rajya Sabha.
Stimberwala had resigned recently as an echo-cardiogram technician in the Sardar Patel Hospital and Heart Institute in Ankleshwar, which Patel had helped grow into a modern facility.
Patel was one of the trustees during the hospital’s formative years. He had resigned as a trustee in 2014 facilitating a new board of trustees to take over the facility.
Reacting to Gujarat Chief Minister Rupani’s allegations against Patel, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the BJP was hatching a conspiracy against the Congress MP and asked the party to look inwards.
The Congress leader said: “The BJP is staring at defeat in Gujarat and that is why they are rattled and making such baseless allegations against Congress leaders. Truth will win and the BJP will be defeated in Gujarat.”
“Sardar Patel Hospital is a charitable hospital in which 150-200 employees work. Neither Ahmed Patel nor any of his family members is a trustee of the hospital. They also don’t hold any office of profit in the hospital,” said Surjewala, adding that Stimberwala was one the employees.
He said the ATS should initiate a probe against the suspected terrorists if it has evidence.
“The Gujarat Chief Minister, in order to hide his incapability, is trying to hatch a conspiracy against Congress leader Ahmed Patel and making baseless allegations against him in a very despicable attempt,” the spokesperson said.
“The Congress has always fought against terrorism while the BJP has had an opposite record. Would Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah explain how terrorist Dawood Ibrahim’s wife came to Mumbai under their nose in March 2016 and then left the country. How the Maharashtra government and intelligence agencies didn’t even get a whiff of it and could not arrest her?”
Surjewala also said that some Islamic State agents arrested in Madhya Pradesh were found to have links with the BJP. “One of them Dhruv Saxena, was also a member of BJP’s IT cell,” he said.
“Is it not true that the BJP-PDP government in Jammu and Kashmir gave compensation to the family of terrorist Burhan Wani in December 2016,” Surjewala asked.
He also pointed out that the previous NDA government had released dreaded terrorists like Maulana Masood Azhar, Mushtaq Ahmed Jargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh from the Indian custody in the Kandahar hijacking incident.
“A Maharashtra BJP leader Eknath Khadse had to resign for his alleged links with Dawood. So, the BJP should look inwards before pointing fingers at others.”