The BJP on Monday accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of not being truthful with regards to the remarks he made in the UK over the involvement of his party in the brutal anti-Sikh riots of 1984.
Taking to Twitter, the BJP has shared a video that includes clips of Rahul Gandhi's interview to now Republic TV's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami from January 2014, where he had accepted the involvement of Congress party members in the events in the aftermath of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when almost 3000 members of the Sikh community were killed, as per the official count, and multiple times that, according to unofficial figures.
Arnab Goswami: Would you apologise for the 1984 riots? Were Congressmen involved?
Rahul Gandhi: Some Congressmen probably were involved
Arnab Goswami: You admit some Congressmen probably were involved?
Rahul Gandhi: Some Congressmen have been punished for it
The hark back to the 2014 admission proves the about turn that the Congress president has made during his visit to Europe where, on being asked about the 1984 riots, he first defended himself, saying that he was a victim of violence, and then again, as the BJP's video shows, entirely absolved the Congress party of having any role.
Interacting with UK-based Parliamentarians and local leaders in London, Rahul Gandhi was asked:
"When we speak about 1984, we speak about the criminal involvement of the Congress party in over 3000 murders in Delhi alone over which there's been no move to deliver justice since then."
To this, the Congress president called the anti-Sikh riots a "tragedy" and a "painful experience" and replied,
"You say the Congress party was involved. I don't agree with that."
With the remarks made abroad sparking an outrage, the Congress sought to temper the furore, with senior party leader and former Home Minister P Chidambaram clarifying, "We're not absolving the Congress", going on to add that the party had been in power in 1984 but that Rahul Gandhi couldn't be held responsible as he was 13-14-years old then.
The Congress president's remarks, made during the course of a controversy-filled visit to Germany and UK that has created headlines in India, also contradicts the Congress party's most meaningful acceptance of the 1984 riots, when in 2005, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had tendered an apology in Parliament to the Sikh community and the entire nation.
"I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place", Dr Manmohan Singh had said -- a statement made in the Rajya Sabha that Chidambaram also raised while coming to Rahul Gandhi's defence. While calling himself a victim of violence, Rahul Gandhi too had referred to the former PM's apology, saying that "he (Dr Singh) had spoken for all of us", which makes the abrupt u-turn even more questionable.
The BJP, in its tweet citing Rahul Gandhi's admission in the interview to Arnab Goswami, has also included what is infamously believed to be former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's response to the unmitigated violence that was unleashed following his mother's assassination at the hands of two of her guards, when he said: "When a big tree falls, the Earth shakes."
Following Rahul Gandhi's remarks, Akali Dal President and former Punjab Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the Congress president of "rubbing salt into our wounds by telling the country, especially the Congressmen that 'I am behind you. Whatever massacre you did, I'll support you through and through.'"
Speaking exclusively to Republic TV, Badal added:
"Ask any Congress leader from Punjab and even they will say that Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar had their role in the killings. Ask anyone from within India or the world, from an eight-year-old kid to a 90-year-old, they will tell the 1984 killings were done by Congress and its leaders. The comments by Rahul Gandhi has added salt to the wound. This is their thinking towards the Sikh community. They don't care. "
Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal was also unsparing towards the about-face. She took to Twitter and wrote:
"Rahul Gandhi, denial won't wash off the blood of innocents from your family's hands. Congress and your family is responsible for the carnage of thousands of Sikhs and its a fact known to the world. This explains why Sikhs have been denied justice for 34 years."
She added: "Rather it's time you forgot your wretched lineage as the "Gandhi" in your name is synonymous with the massacre of Sikhs, desecration of the Golden Temple, demolition of Akal Takht Sahib & unforgivable sacrilege of thousands of Guru Granth Sahibs. @RahulGandhi"
Regarding P Chidambaram's defence of Rahul Gandhi being barely in his teens at the time, which Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh had also voiced, Harsimrat Kaur Badal took him on, tweeting: