New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel on Sunday shot a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the ongoing row over BJP leaders linking Patel’s name to the Islamic State saying “matters of national security cannot be a prisoner of politics”.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani addressed a press conference in the poll-bound state on Saturday to claim that a suspected ISIS terrorist was working at a hospital that has Patel as one of its trustees. Rupani also demanded Patel’s resignation.
In a scathing attack in his letter to Rajnath Singh, the Congress leader wrote: “Framing of charges must be done by law enforcement agencies and the judiciary and not by political leaders in press conferences from party headquarters.”
Two suspected ISIS operatives were arrested by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) a few days ago and according to an FIR, one of the accused, Kasim Stimberwala, earlier worked as a technician at Sardar Patel Hospital in Ankleshwar town of Bharuch district. Rupani sought Patel’s resignation saying he is one of the trustees of this hospital.
Both the Congress party and the concerned hospital authorities have denied any links with each other. The hospital has also said that the suspected IS operative had quit his job at the hospital in early October.
"This is a serious issue, as a terrorist was arrested from a hospital which is being run by Patel... It has now been revealed that though Patel had resigned as a trustee of that hospital in 2014, but he is still at the helm of the hospital's affairs," the Gujarat CM had alleged.
While the Rajya Sabha member had earlier denied the allegations as “completely baseless”, he further wrote in his letter: “Matters of national security cannot be a prisoner of politics and neither should be reduced baselessly maligning political opponents for petty electoral gains. This would be the greatest injustice we would be doing in our fight against terrorism.”
Patel added, “Therefore I find it extremely disturbing that the ruling party in Gujarat is vitiating a serious ongoing investigation just ahead of elections by making wild and unsubstantiated allegations.”
Meanwhile, other Union ministers including Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Prakash Javadekar have also hit out at Patel, inviting sharp reactions from Congress leaders who stood in support of Ahmed Patel.
The row gains further significance with the state going to polls within two months as the ruling BJP seeks a fifth term in its political stronghold and the opposition Congress seems to be gaining some serious support among the various castes and communities of the state.
Congress in-charge of communications Randeep Surjewala said, "The BJP is being shown the door by 6.5 crore Gujaratis and a defeated BJP is clutching onto the polarising straws of blatant lies to reset the agenda. It will never succeed in its sinister conspiracies."