The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani has clarified that the NDA would pursue a “muscular” foreign policy that “will ensure no body messes around” with India.
This comes after senior party leader Jaswant Singh’s comment that there were differences of opinion in the NDA regarding Operation Parakram — the troop build-up on the Indo-Pakistan border after the 2001 Parliament attack. The statement caused discontent among the BJP.
Singh’s comment followed External Affairs Mukherjee’s statement in Parliament that the government had forced Pakistan to admit that its citizens were involved in the 26/11 attacks “without mobilizing a single solider”. This was seen as an obvious reference to Operation Parakaram.
Advani, who held an interaction with diplomatic experts, also said “we will highlight the UPA’s failures, among other things, in foreign policy in our campaign for Lok Sabha polls” to indicate that the BJP would not let the UPA gloat over its recent success in getting Pakistan to admit of its citizens’ involvement.
Defending the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s decision to amass troops along the border, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said: “Even though I was neither Minister for Defence or External Affairs, I fully defend the decision (of the Vajpayee government).”
Sinha was deputed by Advani to brief the media, after the interaction at his residence, where Singh was absent.
He said “In fact, subsequent diplomatic successes of January of 2004 and 2006 (when Pakistan agreed not to allow use of its soil by terror groups during visits by Prime Ministers Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh) would not have happened but for Operation Parakram. Even Jaswant Singh is not disowning it.”
Explaining Advani’s line of approach, which was in contrast to Singh’s view, Sinha said, “When we say a muscular approach, we do not mean war mongering. But that we must have a foreign policy that will say India cannot be pushed around or taken for granted by any country. If anyone does, India will respond in kind.”