Smriti Irani accuses Congress of hampering proceedings of Ram temple case
Union minister Smriti Irani blamed the Congress Friday for "creating hurdles" in the judicial process in the Ram temple case through its lawyers and said 'Ram bhakts' should ask the party about it. "Congress should not do politics through its lawyers on the Ram temple issue, which is a matter of faith for people. Its leaders, as lawyers, are creating hurdles in the court. People and Ram bhakts should ask the party whether its leader wore 'janeu' (sacred thread) only for the polls in three states," she said.
Her reference was to senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal, who had urged the Supreme Court to defer the hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case until after the 2019 general election. She made the comment hours after the apex court said an appropriate bench constituted by it will pass an order on January 10 to fix the date of hearing in the case. Irani was visiting Amethi, about 140km from the state capital Lucknow, and said this when talking to reporters ahead of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's scheduled two-day visit to his Lok Sabha constituency, which was later cancelled as he was in Lok Sabha for a debate on the Rafale fighter jet controversy.
The Union minister also criticised Gandhi for remaining "silent" when Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath had said people from UP and Bihar get employment in MP at the cost of the local population. "Why was Rahul silent when Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath spoke against people from UP and Bihar working in that state? How will he look into the eyes of people in Amethi today?" she said. Irani had unsuccessfully contested against Gandhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and they are likely to fight again from Amethi in the general election this year.
For Irani's visit, local BJP leaders had put up posters seeking an explanation from Gandhi on Kamal Nath's statement on workers from UP and Bihar. One of the posters carried a collage of newspaper clippings of his statement. Soon after being sworn in as Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Kamal Nath had announced a new state government policy under which industries availing investment incentives will need to give 70 per cent employment to the local youth.
He had said, "Lot of industries are set up in which people from other states, like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, come to work. I do not want to criticise them, but the youth of Madhya Pradesh are deprived (of jobs). "So those who want to come here and take advantage of the investment policies will have to give employment to 70 per cent locals of Madhya Pradesh," he had said. Attacking Gandhi for apparently delaying his visit to Amethi, she said, "His coming late in 'maidan-e-jang' (battlefield) of Amethi is an indication that the person who cannot visit his constituency on time cannot give timely solutions."
"Jo paanch saal me ek baar aatey the, ab baar baar aana pad raha hai" (The person who used to visit his constituency once in five years is coming here again and again)," she said. On the Rafale deal controversy, she said Gandhi and his party were indulging in "politics of lies" and asserted that the Supreme Court has already given its verdict on the matter. She claimed Gandhi was nervous because of Amethi's development under the BJP-led central government and was making frequent visits to his constituency, which he has been representing for 15 years.
"If Rahul had done so much for Amethi, why his party lost in so many assembly segments of the Lok Sabha constituency in the 2017 assembly polls," she asked. "Rahul speaks of development, but could not ensure it in his own constituency. He could not even get a CT Scan machine installed in Amethi, which the BJP government is doing today," she said. Irani on Friday inaugurated a computerised tomography (CT) Scan facility in a state-run hospital here. "I want to thank the people of Amethi. The constituency witnessed development under the leadership of Modi. I remember that in 2014, he (Rahul) had to run to booths for votes," she said.
(With inputs from agencies.)