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It happened in 1984, so what, asks Sam Pitroda, demands BJP, Modi fight 2019 Lok Sabha polls on current issues

Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda started a controversy of sorts by brushing aside the 1984 anti-Sikh riots on Thursday, saying, "It happened in 1984, so what?"

The Congress leader was responding to the BJP claim citing the Nanavati commission report that the instructions for the violence came from former prime minister late Rajiv Gandhi after his mother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.

According to ANI, a furious Pitroda told the news agency, "I don't think so, this is also another lie, and what about 1984? You speak about what you have done in the last five years. It happened in 1984, so what? (1984 hua toh hua). (Ab kya hai '84 ka? Aapne kya kiya 5 saal mein, uski baat kariye. '84 mein hua to hua. Aapne kya kiya?)

"You were voted to create jobs. You were voted to create 200 smart cities. You have not even done that. You have not done anything that is why you keep talking here and there," he added. Pitroda later claimed that the BJP was twisting his words and "distorting facts" to "hide" their own failures while reaffirming that he had, in fact, acknowledged the pain of Sikhs during the 1984 riots. Pitroda tweeted:

Nearly 3,000 Sikhs were massacred in the riots following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October, 1984. On Thursday morning, BJP had tweeted: "It's on record of Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the biggest genocide of India in which the government killed its own citizens, that instructions to kill came directly from the then PM Rajiv Gandhi's office. The country awaits justice for this karma".

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"Modi has misused the public money on self-promotion and advertisement," Pitroda said, alleging that half of the budget of the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao was spent on advertisement.

"Come, debate on issues. Have a debate with (Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi and, if not him, then debate with me. I am also a Gujarati," Patroda was quoted as saying by PTI. Pitroda said the Lok Sabha election is the most important in the history of India, saying it is not a contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress. "This election is about the future of India. About what kind of nation we want," he said.

Likening the proposed Nyay scheme with the MGNREGA, Pitroda said the minimum income scheme would kick-start the rural economy. The BJP government failed in its promise of providing 10 crore jobs in five years, instead 24 lakh government posts are lying vacant, Pitroda said.

The BJP allegation about the riots was the third consecutive attack on Rajiv Gandhi ahead of the last two phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha election.

In his report, Justice GT Nanavati, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, who investigated the riots as a one-man commission, had said there is "absolutely no evidence" that Rajiv Gandhi had suggested or organised attacks on Sikhs. The report said evidence suggests that Rajiv had shown much concern about the violence.

"He had issued an appeal for remaining calm and maintaining communal harmony," the report said. It also said when people complained about not being able to reach the police on the emergency number 100, he had called police officers and told them to take immediate action. "He had even visited the affected areas on the night of 1-11-84," the report read.

Addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Pratapgarh, which goes to polls on 12 May, Modi had said, "Rajiv Gandhi had died as Bhrashtachari number 1." On Wednesday, the prime minister claimed that Rajiv had used the warship INS Viraat to go on a family holiday, compromising national security.

Using a hashtag that read in Hindi, "Modi is the biggest liar", the Congress tweeted: "Gentle reminder to Modi, this is the 2019 election, not 1951, not 1966 & not 1984. We dare you to fight on the real issues, do you have the guts?"

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: May 10, 2019 11:26:29 IST