Afzal hanging dents BJP's anti-Congress plank, say leaders

New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru has nullified the BJP's tirade against the Congress and indicated that the party was not soft on terror and did not appease minorities, said party leaders Sunday.

"The BJP's charges against us won't stand now. The BJP used to criticise the Congress on its handling of terrorism. But its own government could not take the decision," said a senior Congress leader who did not wish to be named.

According to party sources, the move will also help the Congress counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the runup to the 2014 general elections, especially Gujarat Chief Minister Narnendra Modi, who is seen as the main contender for the party's prime ministerial nominee in the next Lok Sabha polls.

A belligerent BJP, which vowed not to allow the parliament to run till Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde apologised for his controversial "Hindu terror" remark, suddenly finds itself groping for a political issue to corner the government after Afzal Guru's hanging.

Shinde is leader of the House in the Lok Sabha.

The BJP had been attacking the Congress demanding Guru's hanging to score political points over the past years.

Now, the Congress can embarrass the BJP on the release of three terrorists in an Indian Airlines plane hijack in December 1999, said a senior leader.

"People will judge BJP by what it says and does. The government has to be responsive all the time," said another senior Congress leader.

Even as the BJP top brass is brainstorming how to keep itself relevant as the main opposition party, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government can hope the parliament would transact some business.

The government wants to pass some key economic reforms bills, anti-graft legislation Lokpal, food security bill and the anti-rape ordinance in the budget session, scheduled to start Feb 21, besides other legislations.

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