In light of Rahul Gandhi's remarks comparing Narendra Modi to Adolf Hitler, Congress today suggested it would be foolhardy not to hold the Gujarat Chief Minister responsible for the 2002 riots, which saw the killing of some 3,000 people, allegedly as part of a "planned conspiracy".
"As many as 3,000 people were killed in the pogrom as part of a conspiracy of the government machinery. It was a planned conspiracy only because they belonged to some particular religion," party spokesman Randeep Surjewala alleged.
"A minister in the (Gujarat) government, Mayaben Kodnani, has been convicted for the riots and dozens of police and administrative officials have been found involved," he added.
Referring to recent revelations by senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu, he said that while the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had wanted Modi to resign as the chief minister in the wake of the riots, the party had as a whole prevented that from happening.
"As head of the government, Modi was asked by Vajpayee to resign for his failure to follow 'Rajdharma'. How is it then that Modi is not responsible? If he is not responsible, who else is?" he asked.
Surjewala's criticism of Modi came a day after Gandhi launched a blistering attack on the Gujarat Chief Minister's home turf. Gandhi compared Modi to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and also accused his government of "stealing" farmers' land at the behest of corporates.
Surjewala, meanwhile, claimed that Karuna Shukla, Vajpayee's niece and the only member from his family in politics, had joined Congress when Modi was made the BJP's PM candidate.
He dismissed suggestions that Shukla should be dubbed a "paratrooper" for having secured a Lok Sabha ticket soon after joining Congress.
He claimed that Shukla, who headed the Mahila Morcha in BJP, was getting "suffocated" in the organisation with leaders like Modi taking centrestage.
Further, dubbing Modi's 'chai pe charcha' as an election gimmick, Surjewala also targeted BJP and AAP for the "growing culture of 'goondaism' and bullying" with the two parties beating each other "almost like animals". BJP and AAP workers were recently involved in a violent clash in the national capital.
He said he does not find the violence surprising given the fact that AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has always called himself an anarchist.
"It is time that they look within and practice politics of decency and decorum, debate and discourse and bring back the core agenda of the nation into focus," he said.
He wondered whether the crores of rupees allegedly spent on the 'chai pe charcha' programme was making it a humble affair.