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Kasab hanging robs BJP of an issue, say experts

Wednesday, 21 November 2012 - 8:27pm IST Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2012 - 8:36pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: IANS

But the action is unlikely to be of much electoral advantage to the Congress in next month's Gujarat polls, they say.
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The hanging of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab for the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai has robbed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of an issue in the Gujarat elections and in the winter session of Parliament, but it is unlikely to be of much electoral advantage to the Congress either, say analysts.

Kasab, sole surviving gunman of the 26/11 terror attack, was hanged at the Yerawada Jail in Pune at 7:30am today after his mercy petition was rejected by president Pranab Mukherjee earlier this month.

The hanging took place a day before the start of the winter session of Parliament and in the middle of the campaign for next month's Gujarat assembly elections.

Political analyst Aswini K Ray said the decision might have been taken in view of the Gujarat elections and the winter session.

"It is possible. Can't deny that. But there is overall acceptance that it was long overdue and has been done. I can say well done. One can't fault the government. It has done a reasonably good job and the step has overwhelming public support," Ray told the Indo-Asian News Service.

Ray, a former professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said Kasab's execution was unlikely to make a major difference to the fortunes of the Congress in Gujarat.

"Gujarat polls will be based on local politics," he said while agreeing that the BJP had lost an issue for the elections.

He said if Kasab's death sentence had not been executed, the BJP would have raised the issue in Parliament on November 26, the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai attack which claimed 166 lives and left 300 injured.

Nine of Kasab's associates, who had sneaked into Mumbai for the three-day carnage and were killed by security forces, were secretly buried in January 2010.

Nisar-ul-Haq, head of the department of political science at Jamia Millia Islamia, also said the BJP had lost an issue with Kasab's hanging.

"I can't say if the timing [of execution] had any political significance but BJP has lost an issue," he said.

BJP leaders admitted that Kasab's execution had taken away an issue of the party against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

"It would not have an impact in Gujarat elections, but the Congress effort is to take away core issues of the BJP," a party leader told IANS.

The BJP leader said the government might also like to expedite the execution of the death penalty awarded to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Guru's mercy petition is pending with the president.

Ajai Sahni, a security analyst, said Kasab's hanging would not make a major impact on the fortunes of the Congress in Gujarat.

"I do not think it will become a major issue. It will have very marginal impact," he said, adding that it was wrong to view the hanging from the prism of elections.

Subrata Mukherjee, a former professor at Delhi University, said the Congress could not think of deriving political advantage from Kasab's execution in the Gujarat elections.

"It could have helped perhaps if Afzal Guru was also hanged simultaneously," he said.

Mukherjee said the BJP had lost an issue following Kasab's execution but it was not likely to affect the party's prospects in Gujarat.

The Congress leaders IANS spoke to said the party would not try to derive mileage from Kasab's execution in the Gujarat elections.

They played down questions on the timing of execution, saying the decision to reject Kasab's mercy petition was taken by the president.

They, however, admitted that the decision would strike a popular chord in Maharashtra. Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who conveyed the decision of the president to the Maharashtra government, is a former chief minister of the state. He was appointed home minister in July.

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