Congress leader Ahmed Patel today launched a fierce attack on the ruling BJP, saying ‘the saffron party does not have the sole contract over nationalism’.
Patel, who rebutted the BJP’s allegation about his ‘deep relations’ with a Gujarat hospital where an alleged ISIS operative worked, said that his election to the Rajya Sabha had become an ‘eyesore’ for the BJP.
"When they face difficulties, they talk of nationalism and communalism. Recently, the Chief Minister said something about me, he should be ashamed (of it). The way they weaved the story it seems that they have the sole contract over nationalism. Only they are nationalist, nobody else is," Patel said addressing a public gathering in Jambusar of Bharuch district in the presence of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
The alleged ISIS operative, before his arrest, worked as a laboratory technician at Ankleshwar town's Sardar Patel Hospital, with which Patel had been associated as a trustee. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had asked for Patel's resignation from Parliament over the issue.
Patel stressed he would not resign, adding that he had been elected by MLAs.
Patel, referring to the poll to the Upper House in which he had defeated his BJP rival despite cross-voting by some Congress MLAs, said: "They are asking for my resignation. My win in the Rajya Sabha polls has become an eyesore for the BJP. I will not resign on your demand. My 44 MLAs have elected me."
The senior Congress leader, who belongs to Bharuch district, further dared the BJP to investigate and come out with the truth. Patel added that he had resigned from the hospital in 2015.
"Regarding the ISIS terrorist, I have done some research. He had earlier worked in two hospitals and one of them was inaugurated by BJP leaders. Why are there no allegations against them," he asked.
Patel, also political adviser to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, noted that the Congress and its leaders had made many sacrifices for the country. "It started with Mahatma Gandhiji, and after independence, Indiraji, Rajivji. Many party workers and leaders became target of terrorism... You cannot teach us nationalism, patriotism."
"You cannot fight terrorism. You went and handed over terrorists in Kandahar (Afghanistan). How are you going to fight terrorism," Patel said, referring to the then NDA government's handing over of terrorist accused in exchange of passengers following the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC 814 in 1999.
Gujarat will go to polls in two phases on December 9 and December14. Results of the 182 Assembly will be declared on December 18.