Claiming that both the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi [ Images ] and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] were present in the meeting convened by the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee [ Images ] to take a decision on the issue, senior BJP leader V K Malhotra said, "Why are they making statements criticising Advaniji now?"
"The all-party meeting convened by Vajpayee arrived at a decision that any step should be taken to ensure release of the passengers," Malhotra said.
"When the passengers returned here, everybody welcomed them. Show us any statement by any Congress leader opposing release of the passengers then. No body opposed it. Then why they are opposing it now. Manmohan Singhji should have opposed it then. Soniaji should have opposed it then," Malhotra added.
He said some local Congress leaders also had taken out processions at that time as some of them had their relatives on the plane. "It was said that if you can free militants for the release of Mehbooba Mufti (People's Democratic Party leader) then why cannot you for common people," Malhotra said.
Criticising Singh for taking credit for defeating the attackers of the Mumbai [ Images ] attack, Malhotra said, "10 people held the country hostage for three days and they could not control them for three days. And Prime Minister is taking credit for it."
Malhotra also accused the PM of resorting to Muslim appeasement. "Singh's statement reiterating that first right over resources belongs to Muslims is communal. It is an atrocious and condemnable statement. First right over the resources belongs to the poor people of the country," he said.
He said the BJP will examine Dr Singh's speech and may even approach the Election Commission. Malhotra said BJP will make the price rise an election issue. "In two weeks, the price of sugar has gone up from Rs 19 to Rs 27 per kg, price of onion has gone up from Rs 12 to Rs 20 per kg. So we will make this an election issue," he said, adding the BJP lost assembly elections in many states in 1998 due to spiralling onion prices. "This time the Congress will face the heat in Delhi [ Images ]," he said.