Kandahar again – Congress rubbishes Jaswant’s clean chit to Advani

New Delhi, April 24 (Inditop) The 1999 Kandahar hijacking was back in the news Thursday with the BJP claiming that its leader Jaswant Singh had set the record straight with his disclosure that prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani had opposed the move to free terrorists, and the Congress saying the timing was suspicious.

“Every minister is responsible for the decision taken by the cabinet. Advani tried to create the confusion first. Now, Jaswant Singh is trying to give a clean chit to Advani. It shows the character of the BJP. It shows how unreliable they are,” Devendra Nath Dwivedi, a permanent invitee of the Congress Working Committee, told IANS.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Jaswant Singh’s statement was suspicious in timing and intended to cover up Advani’s default and promote his prime ministerial ambition.

The issue has been the focus of bitter wrangling between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Congress leaders have been targeting Advani for the then National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s decision to release three terrorists in exchange for the hostages of IC-814 taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been exceptionally belligerent saying that the BJP’s ‘Iron Man’ had “melted” during the Kandahar hijack.

But now the record had been straight by Jaswant Singh, said the BJP.

“Basically the controversy has been unnecessarily created by the Congress party. Jaswant Singh has put the record straight and raised a pertinent question that a situation like this can be faced by any government,” said Siddharth Singh, BJP spokesperson.

“Advani has never come out publicly that he had a difference of opinion on the release of hostages. The record is now set straight by Jaswant Singh,” said a close Advani aide.

In an interview while campaigning in Darjeeling, Jaswant Singh, who escorted the three terrorists during the IC-814 hijack, said Advani opposed the swap.

“Two members in the Vajpayee cabinet were opposed to the idea of release of any terrorist in exchange for hijacked Indian Airlines passengers and pay any price. L.K. Advani and Arun Shourie voiced their views against…that should not be done. And I am sharing this for the first time,” he said.

Former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra told IANS that he did not want to comment on Jaswant Singh’s remarks during election time.

“This is election time and I do not want to talk about this. But once the elections are over and the results are out I will speak about it in detail.”