BJP, Cong slugfest over Rushdie issue

New Delhi: A political slugfest broke out today over the Salman Rushdie controversy with the BJP slapping charges of "match fixing" on the Congress which hit back accusing the saffron party of playing a "dangerous" game on a sensitive issue.

"It is a clear case of match fixing between intelligence agencies and jehadis in which the Congress government of Rajasthan played a supportive and active role," BJP`s chief spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said.

He said Congress was using the issue to gain political mileage in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Prasad also alleged that Congress deliberately communalised UP politics citing Digvijay Singh, who termed the Batla House encounter as fake.

Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said, the government should have provided protection to Rushdie rather than stage managing his absence with a concocted death threat.

Rushdie had cancelled his visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival, saying he had received information from intelligence sources in Rajasthan and Maharashtra that "paid assassins" had been engaged to eliminate him if he turned up at the literary meet.

Reacting sharply to the BJP attack, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said,"it is much more than a case of the pot calling the kettle black or the thief accusing the policeman...BJP`s talking about communalism is worse than devil quoting the scriptures. It is utter hypocrisy of that party."

Singhvi said the government of India had made it clear there was no ban on Rushdie visiting the country as he is a PIO card holder and does not require a visa.

By raking up the Rushdie issue now, BJP is "flogging a dead horse," Singhvi said while accusing the Opposition party of playing a very dangerous game if it is saying that the Rajasthan government should not have shared with or alerted the Home Ministry or agencies about the inputs.

He said the same BJP would have then attacked Government citing intelligence inputs if anything untward had happened.

Singhvi accused BJP of seeing every issue from the "prism of communalism" and doing politics over a sensitive matter.