New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday said party president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi had never intervened in any administrative matter including the 'Ishrat Jahan case' during the party-led UPA government, and clarified that it did not seek to distance itself from former home minister P Chidambaram in the case.
"Unlike the RSS, Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi never intervened or gave any suggestion to the then home minister P. Chidambaram or any other authority in government for any administrative matter including the Ishrat Jahan case," party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Surjewala said: "Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah owe an explanation to 125 crore Indians to tell the 'real motive' behind their desperation to shut the ongoing trial in Ishrat Jahan case.
"PM Narendra Modi is using his cronies to unleash a malicious and false agenda vis-a-vis the role of Congress president and vice president by falsely attempting to connect them to the Ishrat Jahan case."
On the question that by defending Sonia and Rahul is the Congress distancing itself from Chidambaram, Surjewala said: "Mr Chidambaram has amply clarified the entire issue. In the first affidavit, it was said that Ishrat Jahan and accomplices could be part of an LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) module.
"In the second affidavit what was said was that verificaton of somebody being or not being a part of LeT module is necessarily the responsibility of the investigative agency as Intelligence Bureau only provides intelligence inputs. So, you must investigate before deciding upon the character of a particular individual. There is no contradiction in terms of the two affidavits. We are not distancing ourselves from him."
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stop perpetuating bundle of lies by using his cronies and pawns to spread falsehoods about the role of Congress president and vice-president in this case," Surjewala said.
"By such mischievous attempts to hoodwink and divert the attention of people of the country, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah cannot put a lid on the truth. They have something to hide. They are trying to derail an ongoing judicial trial in a court in Ahmedabad in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. Let truth and justice be not a casualty in this web of deceit being woven by BJP government," he said.
The Congress reaction came in the light of statements of union Minister of Commerce and Industries Nirmala Sitharaman and other BJP spokespersons in the June 2004 Ishrat Jahan staged shootout case.
Sitharaman and BJP spokesman Sambit Patra had alleged that the Congress had connived to get a political rival, then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, eliminated in Gujarat.
The Congress on Wednesday demanded that Prime Minister Modi and Shah answer "why they are trying to bypass the judicial findings of Metropolitan Court, Ahmedabad, and Division Bench of Gujarat High Court."
"Why the central government and Gujarat government are not giving sanction for prosecution of officers found responsible for the fake encounter of Israt Jahan and accomplices? Why are the prime minister and BJP president trying to block an ongoing trial and blatantly interfere with the judicial process," the Congress asked.