New Delhi: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Friday evening attempted to link two terror suspects arrested recently to senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, saying one of the terror suspects worked as a lab technician at a hospital where Mr Patel had been a trustee. "This is a serious issue," Mr Rupani said, because "the terrorist was arrested from a hospital which is being run by Mr Patel".
Mr Patel and the Congress have brushed aside the charge and demanded "strict and speedy action" against the terror suspects, hinting that Mr Rupani was attempting to polarise the Gujarat elections to be held in December. "Let's not divide peace-loving Gujaratis while fighting terrorism," Mr Patel said.
This week, the Election Commission announced assembly elections would be held in Gujarat on December 9 and 14. The BJP, which is seeking a record fifth straight term in power, has targeted 150 out of the 182 seats but the Congress wants to make the BJP sweat for every seat.
Addressing a rare media briefing on the arrests made three days earlier, the Chief Minister said Mr Patel should resign.
"Imagine what would have happened if these two terrorists were not arrested... Patel, Rahul Gandhi and the Congress must come clean on the issue," he demanded.
Congress leaders suggest Mr Rupani's primary attempt was to shift the discourse BJP's election plank from development to security matters.
The two men were arrested by Gujarat's anti-terror squad on suspicion of plotting an attack on Ahmedabad's Abraham Synagogue.
According to the police complaint filed in court, Kasim Stimberwala and Ubed Baig were influenced by a controversial Jamaican preacher and were planning to buy a pistol to carry out the attack.
Kasim Stimberwala, according to this report, had quit as an echo-cardiogram technician from Sardar Patel Hospital in Ankleshwar district of Bharuch district and had got a job and a work visa for Jamaica. He planned to leave for Jamaica after carrying out the attack at the synagogue.
It was at the Sardar Patel hospital that Mr Ahmed had been a trustee, according to the Congress, till 2015. There were more than a dozen other trustees.
In Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said if anyone had to respond to allegations of a political party failing on security, it was the BJP.
"BJP and its Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, to hide their failures, are issuing these kinds of absurd statements," he said, pointing that it was BJP leaders who had been caught for being Pakistan ISI moles in Madhya Pradesh.