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BJP govt released Masood Azhar, Doval escorted him: Rahul

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 

Rahul Gandhi Tuesday raked up the 1999 release of Pakistan-based terrorist to attack the BJP and over the Pulwama suicide bombing.

Sounding the bugle for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Modi's home state, he fired a fresh salvo at the NDA regime on a slew of issues, including the deal, demonetisation and the implementation of the GST.

Addressing a rally at Adalaj village of district in the presence of Sonia Gandhi, his and other top party leaders, he reiterated that there was massive corruption in the deal.

"He (Modi) talks about patriotism. conducted bomb attack in Pulwama. I would like to ask Narendra Modiji, who released and sent him to (It was) the BJP government, the put Masood Azhar on a special plane, gave him money and sent him to Pakistan," said.

"And Narendra Modiji, your National Security Adviser, (Ajit) Dovalji (who was then with the IB), escorted Masood Azhar to (in Afghanistan)," he said.

Azhar and two other terrorists were set free by the in exchange of hostages of the IC-814 flight hijacked to in December 1999.

Azhar later went on to set up the Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terror outfit that claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama.

"Explain to the country, why did you send the person who killed those 40-45 martyrs, on a special plane? Tell the country why your government sent him to

"Who had arrested Masood Azhar? party had arrested Masood Azhar, he was kept in jail," he said.

Gandhi again targeted Modi on the deal, saying, "He (PM) speaks about pilots and air force but in the Rafale fighter jet deal he has taken away Rs 30,000 crore from them and given it to "

"has never made a plane in his life. If I give him a piece of paper he would not be able to make a plane out of that also," the said, mocking the industrialist.

The Centre has repeatedly denied any irregularities in the mega defence deal with Ambani has also emphasised the government had no role in the Rafale manufacturer picking up his company as a local offset partner.

Later, talking to reporters, rejected the notion that political atmosphere in the country has changed in favour of the ruling BJP after the Pulwama terror attack and the subsequent air strike on a JeM camp in

He claimed that key issues such as farm distress and unemployment will remain at the core of the April-May polls.

"I don't think so," he said when asked by reporters whether he feels the political atmosphere has changed after the terror attack and the air strike.

"See, apart from corruption and farm distress, another important issue is jobs. Unemployment has increased due to demonetisation and GST.

"Unemployment ratio is at a 45-year high today. People are still angry as their expectations were not fulfilled. Employment generation was a complete failure," he said.

Asked which key issues his party would focus on to target the during the Lok Sabha polls, he said the main focus will be on Modi's "personal corruption" in the Rafale deal.

"Main issue is how Modiji gave Indian Air Force's Rs 30,000 crore to Defence ministry documents have revealed that Modiji bypassed procedures to help Anil Ambani.

"This is the main issue. The people of are smart enough to understand that Modiji did commit some mischief in the Rafale deal," he said.

He also accused Modi of distracting people from key issues such as employment.

Gandhi also targeted the on the issue of recent tracking of in

"I read in the newspaper yesterday that the England government has sent message to saying it needs information from you (Indian government) and they will send back to

"The government in England says is not responding. addresses Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Anil Ambani by adding "bhai" to their names.

"Money used for his marketing comes from Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya, Anil Ambani...," Gandhi said.

Earlier in the day, a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's highest decision-making body, was held in after a gap of 58 years.

The last CWC meeting in was held at Bhavnagar way back in 1961.

"After many years the CWC meeting was held in Gujarat. And we kept the meeting in Gujarat because there is a fight of two ideologies in

"And you will see both the ideologies in Gujarat. On one hand is Mahatma Gandhi, who gave up every moment of his life to build the country. And the other ideology you know," he said, apparently referring to the BJP-RSS combine.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 12 2019. 20:45 IST