For once, the government and the Opposition BJP sent out a message of unity and resolve to combat terrorism in the wake of the deadly attacks in Mumbai. “No politics and no blame game for now” was their common response to the events described as India’s worst terror attack.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition LK Advani spoke atleast thrice since Wednesday night. BJP president Rajnath Singh said his party as with the government "at this hour" to the challenge posed by the terrorists. Arun Jaitely said, “we think the government knows best how to handle the crisis now.”
On her part, Sonia Gandhi led the Congress in expressing her resolve that the terror attacks in Mumbai would be met "resolutely'' and the country would unitedly defeat the threat posed by the "enemies"’ of the people and the nation.
Under Opposition fire until now for soft-pedaling the issue, Congress sources spoke of a possible one-day session of Parliament for conveying the country’s resolve to unitedly fight terror. The occasion could also be used to make a case for a federal anti-terror agency and strengthen anti-terror laws, a major demand of the Opposition parties.
Advani readily accepted the PM's invitation to join him in visiting Mumbai once the operations against the terrorists holed up in the city's hotels ended. Later, when he was told the PM might not travel immediately, he informed him that he and Jaswant Singh would go to Mumbai to look up the wounded and call on families of those killed, including police officers.
Advani said : "I am traumatized by the events in Mumbai since last night. Clearly, the terrorists have declared a full-scale war on India and sought to sever the country's economic nerve with their meticulously planned carnage across the metropolis.”
Right now, Advani emphasized that the need of the hour is for the people of Mumbai, Maharashtra and the entire country to stay united and calm. “Maintenance of peace, tranquility, communal harmony and patriotic unity must be our highest priority." Advani paid tributes to ATS chief Hemant Karkare and other police officers who lost their lives.
Sonia sought to send out a message of reassurance while underlining that the Centre and the Maharashtra government assess the security scenario and take immediate and necessary steps to boost security.
“We will rest only after eliminating terrorism,’’ she said while condemning the attacks that, according to her, were not only a security issue but also a challenge to the nation and its pride.
Her sentiments were echoed by Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi who observed a two minute silence before addressing a rally at Kishangarh in Rajasthan where he underlined that the terrorists would not succeed in their nefarious design to divide the country. Later in the day, spokesman Abhishek Singhvi spoke in the same vein.
“The benefit of doubt on the issue of handling terror will be lost unless we come out with concrete action and the strongest possible political reaction in the next few days,’’ admitted a Congress leader pleading anonymity.
Even otherwise, there was a sense of unease in the party that the Mumbai attacks could perhaps mar its prospects in the ongoing assembly elections, with Madhya Pradesh polling on Thursday.