New Delhi: Dismayed over Congress MPs not attending a programme to pay floral tributes to Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Parliament, BJP leader L K Advani today said politicians should not discriminate on party lines between great men of the nation.
Congress MPs, Speaker Meira Kumar and Vice President Hamid Ansari were conspicuous by their absence from a programme organised in Central Hall of Parliament to pay floral tributes to Mookerjee on his birth anniversary on Saturday.
Noting this, Advani said at the BJP headquarters later, "The great men of the nation should not be discriminated on party lines.... In the Central Hall, when we gathered to pay floral tributes to Mookherjee, I did not see anybody from the Congress. I noticed that they had not come."
Advani, along with Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley, paid tributes to Mookherjee in Parliament.
Deputy Speaker Karia Munda, Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, BJP leaders S S Ahluwalia and Rajendra Agarwal were among those present. The Lok Sabha Speaker usually makes it a point to attend such functions.
"I did not know that this could be the attitude of the Congress. If this was by mistake then Congress should make amends. But if this was by design then it is sad," Advani said.
He recalled that when the portrait of freedom fighter Veer Savarkar was put in Parliament, the Congress leaders had openly announced their opposition to it and boycotted the programme even though the President of India attended.
Advani said Mookherjee and Bhim Rao Ambedkar were inducted by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru into his cabinet at Mahatma Gandhi`s behest even though the two leaders had been critical of the Congress in the past and did not belong to that party.
"Gandhi had given this suggestion to Nehru that those whose services the Congress was deprived of but who have the talent and the ability should be inducted into his Cabinet. Gandhi suggested two names," Advani said.
The BJP leader maintained that Gandhi felt Mookherjee and Ambedkar could contribute in a big way to bringing the country out of the challenges and problems it was facing at the time of independence.
Mookherjee had later resigned from the Cabinet and demanded that the special status to Jammu and Kashmir should be scrapped. He opposed the permit required at that time to enter the state and was arrested in Pathankot. He was incarcerated in Jammu and Kashmir and died in jail.