BJP attacks govt on Rehman Malik's statement

Ravi Shankar Prasad

BJP on Monday sought to corner the government over the controversial statement by Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik equating Babri Masjid demolition with Mumbai terror attacks, as it demanded to know in Rajya Sabha as to why India did not respond strongly.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, deputy leader of BJP Ravi Shankar Prasad asked why the government "failed" to tell Malik that Allahabad High Court has already given its verdict and those claiming it to be a mosque have been unable to prove it.

This triggered an angry reaction from Sabir Ali, a member of BJP ally JD(U), who trooped into the Well.

Malik, during his visit here, had said nobody wants to see the recurrence of incidents like Mumbai blasts, Samjhauta blasts or Babri Masjid issue. Later, however, he denied comparing the demolition of the shrine to the Mumbai attacks, adding that he had been "misunderstood".

"What Rehman Malik said was unwarranted, unprovoked. We strongly condemn it. I want to ask the Home Minister why Malik was allowed to come if his visit to India was with an agenda. Why the government did not respond to all this strongly? Home Minister should reply," Prasad said in presence of Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Prasad also took objection to Malik's remarks dismissing India's evidence against Saeed in 26/11 attacks and that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist Abu Jundal was an operative of an elite Indian intelligence agency.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said the minister will make a statement on the issue.

Minutes later, when Deputy Chairman P J Kurien called Naresh Agrawal (SP) for his Zero Hour mention, Ali stood up and opposed Prasad's remarks on Babri Masjid.

Much to the discomfiture of senior leaders of both the parties, which run a coalition government in Bihar, Ali alleged that Prasad "told a lie to the House" and that no court ever said that it could not be proved that there was Babri Masjid.

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