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BJP has suddenly discovered Dr. Ambedkar: Chidambaram

Special Correspondent

He asks the party to explain Shourie’s book on the leader

MUMBAI: Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday attacked the BJP for suddenly discovering Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and asked the party to explain Arun Shourie’s book Worshipping False Gods.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Chidambaram said the BJP had suddenly discovered Dr. Ambedkar. He was reacting to Mr. Advani’s comments on Tuesday that the Congress did not do justice to the architect to the Constitution of India.

Mr. Chidambaram said the truth of the BJP’s feelings was contained in the outrageous book by Mr. Shourie. Displaying a copy of Mr. Shourie’s book, Mr. Chidambaram said the BJP must answer why Mr. Shourie was the party’s intellectual in residence.

“When they [the BJP] need someone with an IQ of more than 60, then they turn to Mr. Shourie,” he said.

The Minister said there were 11 references to Dr. Ambedkar in Mr. Advani’s recent book My Country My Life and though no bad words were used there was nothing good said about him either.

Mr. Chidambaram said he was happy that the BJP had discovered Dr. Ambedkar and they would soon discover the virtues of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

On the Kandahar issue, Mr. Chidambaram said had he been the Home Minister then he would not have exchanged the terrorists or expressed regret four years later that he did not know that they were taken by the External Affairs Minister to Kandahar.

Mr. Chidambaram said that in the first four years of the United Progressive Alliance rule, the economy grew at over 9 per cent. It required a high degree of competence to deliver high growth and also deal with the financial crisis. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could only reach 5.8 per cent average growth during its rule, he said. Despite the slowdown in 2008-09, the government would show a growth rate of close to 7 per cent, he said. The BJP could have never dealt with the international financial crisis.

Funds to States

The high rate of growth had helped to devolve funds to the States, he said. Giving figures of what the NDA and the UPA had spent on Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Integrated Child Development Services and other programmes, he said the UPA had spent in 2008-09 at least five times more than that was spent by the NDA in 2003-04. “Don’t mock at high growth rates,” he warned the BJP and the Left, as this was what led to increased spending on the needs of the poor.

He criticised the BJP’s manifesto and the NDA for slashing the recruitment of police officers from 85 to 36 a year, creating a huge gap in the cadre. This was a grave and irreparable damage that was hard to fill in a year and now he was recruiting 130 officers annually.

Referring to the possible mix-up in the DNA reports on the terror suspects which were sent to Pakistan, Mr. Chidambaram said it could be a minor clerical error. “Let’s not make much of this error and it can be easily corrected. ‘Kasab’ is alive and he can be tested for DNA anytime,” he pointed out.

Afzal case

On Afzal Guru (who was convicted in the Parliament attack case), Mr. Chidambaram said: “If you pick out Afzal Guru then you are looking at the case through the lens of religion. A convict is a convict and he has to be dealt with as per law.”

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