Top BJP leaders are more upset with Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah’s treatment of their parliamentary leaders – Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley – for the last two days than his government’s act of thwarting of the party’s ekta yatra to unfurl the tricolour in Srinagar.
Abdullah called up Jaitley late Wednesday night to say he was sorry for “inconveniencing” them by detaining them at Jammu airport and, then later at Kathua inside the state when they made a fresh attempt to proceed towards Srinagar on Thursday.
But senior BJP leaders were upset that the chief minister did not show any “basic courtesy” due to the Leaders of Opposition in Parliament. They pointed out that it was first time since the Emwergency that the Opposition leaders in Parliament were absent at Rajpath.
Abdullah did not release them before the Republic Day functions got over though he invited them to attend the events in the state.
Soon after her release from detention, Swaraj said "this is an extra-ordinary situation. India completes 61 years of being a Republic. This is the first Republic Day after the Emergency when Leaders of Opposition of both Houses of Parliament were kept under arrest. And our fault was that we were entering Jammu and Kashmir and for this crime we were arrested."
She asked, “My first question to the government is what kind of a Republic is this," Swaraj asked.
Jaitley said, “We are under arrest even after the parade was over. That proves how serious Omar Abdullah was on the invite. Hundreds of our supporters were still being arrested."
He said, "We were under custody for the honour of national flag.That is the way we celebrated the Republic Day. Many of activists were arrested or detained."
He said many activists tried to hoist the flag at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk today but were arrested. “It is grand standing that they were first arrested and then Omar hoisted the national flag.”
Swaraj said, "Yesterday night, we also got a farcical invitation when the chief minister invited us to take part in the official function in Srinagar. Was he not aware that we were under arrest ?"
Swaraj said she and other BJP leaders were released only at 12:40 pm while the official parade started at 10 am. "Our invitation is that you (Abdullah) join us and unfurl the flag at Lal Chowk," she said.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani said the agitation has brought to the forefront the issue of "fully integrating" J-K with the rest of the country. He recalled the movement launched by BJP ideologue Shyama Prasad Mookerjee "to unify the whole of Kashmir with the rest of India" and the NDA regime's amendment of the Flag Code allowing all Indians the right to hoist the tricolour on all days.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari asked, “Is this the manner you treat thje Opposition leaders? You have bowed to separatists and some people say there is politics in hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk. I don't understand what politics can there be in hoisting the flag... This is not politics".
Former party president Rajnath Singh ended his hunger strike over the issue in Delhi this morning after Gadkari requested him to do so.