Congress seeks to reap dividends of hanging Kasab

Party hopes to get a boost in Gujarat and 2014 elections

The secretive hanging of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab may help the Congress reap rich political dividends.

It will not only shift the immediate focus from the retail FDI issue in Parliament, but also help the party to counter Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders who often accuse it of going soft on terror.

Congress hopes to get a boost in the last leg of campaign in the two-phased Gujarat Assembly polls, due next month. “We have always been accused of being soft on terror.
Now, when Kasab has been executed, the people of the country will understand how serious is the UPA government in handling the issues of national security,” a senior Congress leader said.

He however admitted that Kasab’s execution will help the party counter the BJP campaign in Gujarat and also in 2014 general elections, hoping that it (execution) will also strike a popular chord in Maharashtra.

However, coming on record, the Congress leaders refused to accept that there was any politics on the part of UPA government in the execution of capital punishment to Kasab, a day before the Winter Session of Parliament is set to begin. “There is no political decision by the government. Kasab was hanged (to death) after due process of law,” party spokesperson P C Chacko said, downplaying the timing of his execution.

The Congress spokesperson refused to answer questions on why Kasab’s execution got a nod from the President jumping the queue as there were others including Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in the death row for longer period.

“This is not a government or political decision. This is a judicial process. Nobody is blocking the process. The process has to be completed. As far government is concerned, after all legal processes are over, a decision is inevitable,” he said.

The BJP welcomed the execution, saying “better late than never”. It, however, questioned why no action had still been taken on the mercy petition of Guru, demanding the Parliament attack convict’s execution.

 “It has been over six years since Afzal Guru was sentenced to death and his review and other petitions were rejected by the Supreme Court but why has no action has been taken? I hope the government will expedite the processing of all mercy petitions,” BJP’s chief spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said. Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh hoped the government would now pursue the case against the handlers in Pakistan and also expedite the decision on Guru.

“Now the government of India should pursue the case against the handlers in Pakistan. They should expedite the decision on Afzal Guru,” he said.

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