New Delhi: The Congress on Monday strongly backed senior leader Kamal Nath who has been appointed in-charge of the party's state unit of Punjab, in the wake of the Aam Aadmi Party's scathing attack on Nath for his alleged role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
"If perception is created by a lie. Then, we will have to reply that lie. There is no truth in this. Till 2005, no one has taken Kamal Nath ji's name. In 2005, Nanavati Commission was set up and even prior, to that so many other commissions were also set up. None had uttered his name anywhere. None of these have indicted him," said Anand Sharma, the Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha while addressing a press conference.
"Nobody even lodged a complaint against him. First time, his name was mentioned in the Nanavati Commission which was formed during NDA's rule," he added.
Sharma said that a journalist named Sanjay Suri, who was present during the riots gave his statement to the Nanavati Commission saying that Kamal Nath was urging the crowd not to indulge in violence.
"Nanavati Commission report also stated that in absence of any evidence it is not possible for the Commission to say that he had in any manner instigated the mob or that he was involved in the attack on the Gurudwara," Sharma said.
"After Nanavati Commission report came, an adjournment motion was brought in the Lok Sabha by the opposition. BJP was in opposition then. L.K. Advani ji didn't even utter a single thing about Kamal Nath. Neither Akali Dal nor BJP mentioned his name," Sharma added.
Commenting on the strong attack launched by AAP on the issue, Sharma said: "AAP was not even born then..AAP after having miserably performed in Delhi has mischievously misrepresented the facts to achieve narrow political dividends."
"What they have said about Kamal Nath is perverse, contrary to the facts," Sharma added.
Meanwhile Punjab Congress leaders also backed Nath on the issue.
"Kamal Nath ji is the longest serving MP in this Lok Sabha. He is not fighting election in Punjab. He is here, just overseeing the things. The elections are being fought under the leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh," said Manpreet Badal, the Vice President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, while talking to IANS.
Commenting on AAP's stand, Badal said: "AAP has no locus standi on the issue. Their statements are away from the facts."
Congress leaders observed that Kamal Nath comes with extensive experience that will be really helpful in uniting the party's deeply faction ridden state unit.
"Kamal Nath ji is a very senior leader. His appointment will be really helpful to us," a party MP from Punjab, Ravneet Singh Bittu told IANS adding, "feedback from the cadres regarding his (Nath's) appointment, has been conveyed to the party high-command."
Meanwhile, refuting AAP allegations Kamal Nath earlier in the day had asserted that he was absolved by the Nanavati Commission of any involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
"Nanavati Commission in its report which is also available on internet has absolved me and said that in no way I have either instigated or participated in anti-Sikh riots," Nath told NDTV here.
"This was end of the matter as there was never a charge against me and the matter was also raised in Parliament, there was no charge by the Akalis themselves for all these years," he said.
Asked about the allegations levelled by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal regarding his involvement in the riots, Nath said: "The perception is that this is politics and since he is slipping back in Punjab, he is bringing this issue, and we will deal with it."
On the other hand, senior AAP leader Harvinder Singh Phoolka said that even police records show that Kamal Nath was present with the mob at Gurdwara Rakabganj at the time of the riots.
"Kamal Nath himself gave an affidavit to Nanavati admitting his presence with the mob at Gurdwara Rakabganj. He admitted and said that he went there to pacify the crowd," Phoolka said addressing a press conference here.
"The Congress is rewarding Kamal Nath for obeying (then Prime Minister) Rajiv Gandhi's orders during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi," Phoolka added.
"How can they give Kamal Nath a clean chit when his name has cropped up again and again in connection with violence against Sikhs in 1984," Phoolka said, citing newspaper reports and the Nanavati Commission findings.
Thousands of Sikhs were killed in communal violence that broke out in Delhi after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, by her Sikh bodyguards.