New Delhi: A war of words ensued between the BJP and Congress Saturday soon after the Gujarat SIT, in an affidavit, accused late Ahmed Patel of conspiring to topple the Modi-led government during the 2002 riots.
While Congress called the SIT’s allegations “mischievous” and “manufactured”, BJP accused Sonia Gandhi of being the “driving force” behind the “conspiracy” to implicate then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots case.
The Gujarat SIT, which is probing charges of criminal conspiracy and forgery against social activist Teesta Setalvad, retired DGP R.B. Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in the 2002 riots, said all accused had held several meetings and obtained money from Patel as part of a “criminal conspiracy” to implicate Modi.
Soon after, Congress released a statement calling the SIT’s claims a “systematic strategy” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “absolve himself of any responsibility for the communal carnage unleashed” during his stint as the Gujarat CM in 2002.
“The prime minister’s political vendetta machine clearly does not even spare the departed who were his political adversaries. This SIT is dancing to the tune of its political master and will sit wherever it is told to,” added the party’s official statement issued by Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh.
“Giving judgement through the press, in an ongoing judicial process, through puppet investigative agencies who trumpet wild allegations as supposed findings, has been the hallmark of the Modi-Shah duo’s tactics for years. This is nothing but another example of the same, with the added object of vilifying a deceased person since he is obviously unable and unavailable to refute such brazen lies,” the Congress’ statement added.
It also cited a previous instance where an SIT chief (not identified) was “rewarded” with a diplomatic assignment after he had given a “clean chit” to then CM Modi.
Political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla, a Congress supporter, also expressed disappointment over the SIT’s claims when ‘Patel was no longer alive to defend himself’.
“Yesterday it was Hamid Ansari. Today it is Ahmed Patel ji, who is unfortunately no more amongst us to defend himself! Why did the Hon’ble PM and HM not act against Ahmed Patel ji while he was alive? Why did the then Gujarat CM & PM candidate Modi ji say Ahmed Patel is his “friend?” he wrote on Twitter.
Yesterday it was #HamidAnsari today it is Ahmed Patel ji, who is unfortunately no more amongst us to defend himself! Why did the Hon'ble PM & HM not act against Ahmed Patel ji while he was alive? Why did the then Gujarat CM & PM candidate Modi ji say Ahmed Patel is his "friend?"
— Tehseen Poonawalla Official 🇮🇳 (@tehseenp) July 16, 2022
Mumtaz Patel hits out at Centre
Mumtaz Patel, the late Congress leader’s daughter, also dismissed the SIT’s charges and asked why the Centre did not prosecute her father till 2020 for “hatching such a big conspiracy”.
“I guess his name (Ahmed Patel) still holds weight to be used for political conspiracies to malign the Opposition,” she wrote.
I guess his name @ahmedpatel still holds weight to be used for political conspiracies to malign d opposition.Why during UPA years @TeestaSetalvad was not rewarded & made Rajya sabha membr & why the center uptil 2020 did not prosecute my father for hatching such a big conspiracy ?
— Mumtaz Patel (@mumtazpatels) July 16, 2022
Sonia Gandhi ‘tried to destabilise BJP government’
BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra, meanwhile, slammed the Congress and alleged that Patel, who was then a Rajya Sabha MP and political advisor to Gandhi, was just a “medium” through which she “tried to destabilise the BJP government” in Gujarat and “damage Prime Minister Modi’s political career”.
“The reality has been revealed in the affidavit…that there was a conspiracy but who were the ones that were driving these conspiracies? It was Ahmed Patel, the former Rajya Sabha MP and former chief political advisor to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi,” Patra said at a press conference Saturday.
Patra also called Congress’ statement “mischievous” and asked Gandhi to address the nation regarding the allegations.
BJP’s IT Cell Chief Amit Malviya, tweeted saying, “Patel is dead and Modi is the Prime Minister. It’s all karma”.
Teesta Setalvad, R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt had carried out the larger conspiracy to destabilise and wrongly implicate then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi at the behest of Ahmed Patel.
Today, Patel is dead and Modi is the Prime Minister. It’s all karma.https://t.co/3SYA1sRQtR
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) July 16, 2022
The affidavit was submitted by the Gujarat SIT’s Investigating Officer B.C. Solanki Friday in a city civil sessions court to challenge Setalvad’s bail plea. She has been accused by the SIT of obtaining at least Rs 30 lakh for “fabricating evidence and influencing witnesses” against the then Gujarat government, on the instructions of the Congress leader.
Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt are currently being investigated in connection to an FIR registered in Ahmedabad on 25 June, after the Supreme Court rejected a plea against clean chit given to PM Modi and others in cases related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.