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Sibal questions BJP's nationalism

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, APRIL 3. The Congress today termed the nationalism professed by the Bharatiya Janata Party as "pseudo-nationalism" and questioned the "patriotism" of those who opposed the Quit India Movement.

"They were against India gaining freedom. They don't know the meaning of swadeshi. They know only to get votes by telling lies," Kapil Sibal, All-India Congress Committee spokesperson, said here today.

Mr. Sibal charged that the late Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the "favourite teacher" of Mr. Advani was a Minister in Bengal during the Quit India Movement. "We have documents to prove his antagonism to the movement," he said reading out from the book of A.G. Noorani, titled "RSS and BJP."

"Both the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, went to jail after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi as there was a crackdown on the workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh," Mr. Sibal said.

"Mr. Advani is jittery. The Bharat Uday Yatra he is conducting presently is an act of desperation. Now he is saying Hinduism is equal to Hindutva. He also equates Hindutva to secularism," he said. "Can any good Hindu tolerate what Narendra Modi or Vinay Katiyar has been talking," he asked.

Mr. Sibal also defined the words `Hindutva' and `Hinduism' pointing out that the former was a later day concept while Hinduism was ancient. "Now Hindutva is a political weapon." He challenged the BJP claims of "India Shining" campaign and said the only thing the National Democratic Alliance Government could carry forward after assuming power was the policies of "economic liberalisation," initiated by the Congress. "Now there is no debate on development or on economic issues on the part of the BJP. This is because they have no achievements in any sector. Their reluctance is understandable," Mr. Sibal said.

The Congress spokesperson accused the BJP of skirting economic issues in the election campaign even after Mr. Vajpayee's promise at the outset that developmental issues would take the centre stage. "In February, he had said this. However, after two months only one issue — the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin — was the economic aspect they could think about," Mr. Sibal said.

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