Days after Karuna Shukla, niece of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using Vajpayee’s ashes for political gains for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has criticised her by saying that she was ‘politicising’ his death.
“She (Shukla) is with the Congress and had also contested elections on their ticket. She is trying to politicise it (Vajpayee’s death). It is unfortunate… We believe this far beyond and above politics,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
BJP’s spokesperson further said that this is not the first time that the ashes of a political leader have been taken to several states for immersion.
“But we don’t see it as a political exercise. Some people have also pointed out why BJP is taking Atal’s ashes across the country. This is not the first time this has happened…it’s happened with several Prime Minister before Atal — Nehru’s ashes and Indira Gandhi’s ashes also went to several states,” Kohli said.
“I think that opportunity to people to offer their homage is not a political opportunity but a mark of respect,” he said. He added that the idea behind taking his ashes across the country was to give an opportunity to the people to pay their respects.
The ashes of BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee were immersed in the Gomti River among the several rivers across India where similar rituals took place on Thursday.
Leaders from various political parties observed a two-minute silence and paid tribute to Vajpayee at the Jhule Lal Park in Lucknow before his ashes were immersed in Gomti River.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on August 16 at the age of 93.