Congress disagrees with Sonia Gandhi over release of Rajiv Gandhi's killerstext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court's decision to release Nalini Sriharan and five other convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case today infuriated the Congress, who declared that they "disagreed with Sonia Gandhi," who had argued for their release from prison.
According to Congress, legal action would be taken.
"Sonia Gandhi, above all, is entitled to her personal views. But with the greatest respect, the party doesn't agree and has made our view clear. In this case, Congress' views are the same as that of the central government. The party does not agree with Sonia Gandhi's view, has never agreed with that view, and has made this view clear for years," said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi in response to a question from NDTV.
"Rajiv Gandhi's assassination was not like any other crime. This is a national issue, not a local murder."
Nalini Sriharan approached the Supreme Court after it released AG Perarivalan, one of the prisoners, in May using its special power.
The seven defendants in the case have each served more than 30 years behind bars.
Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a woman suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organisation on May 21, 1991, in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.
For their part in the murder, seven convicted individuals received death sentences.
On the initiative of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi's wife and the previous president of the Congress, Nalini Sriharan's sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2000. Nalini was pregnant when she was detained, according to Sonia Gandhi's clemency appeal.
In 2014, the sentences of six further offenders were also commuted. The same year, J Jayalalitha, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu at the time, started the process to release them, NDTV reported.
The daughter of Rajiv Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, met Nalini in a Vellore prison in Tamil Nadu in 2008. "The big learning from that meeting was that I was still... Though I was not angry anymore, I did not hate her... and I wanted to meet her, I was still thinking that I was somebody who could forgive her for something she had done. And then I met her, and I realized, what am I talking about...?" Priyanka Gandhi told NDTV.
"We are consistent about our stand. This is an institutional matter. The sovereignty, integrity and the identity of a nation is involved in the assassination of a former Prime Minister," said Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
"That is why the central government has also never agreed with releasing the convicts. Either the previous government (Congress) or this (BJP)," the Congress leader added.
Asked whether the party also disagreed with its ally DMK, which rules Tamil Nadu, Mr Singhvi shot back. "They are our allies. We don't agree with even Sonia Gandhi."
Mr Singhvi retaliated when asked if the party also disapproved of its ally DMK, which governs Tamil Nadu. "They are our allies. We don't agree with even Sonia Gandhi".
Mr Singhvi questioned the rationale of the Supreme Court's use of "special powers" to release the killers of a former prime minister who had been convicted.
Has the larger issue of sovereignty and integrity of a nation been taken into account? It was an attack on India's integrity," he said.
Earlier, another Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh, had said: "The decision of the Supreme Court to free the remaining killers of former PM Rajiv Gandhi is totally unacceptable and completely erroneous. The Congress party criticises it clearly and finds it wholly untenable."
He added: "It is most unfortunate that the Supreme Court has not acted in consonance with the spirit of India on this issue."