Even as the foreign ministry tried to ensure that the US President’s visit struck the right chord with a reiteration of the resolve to fight terrorism, the BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy struck a “wrong” note by criticising Barack Obama for making no direct reference to terror emanating from Pakistan.
The government sought to play down the note of dissonance. “Obama underscored that there was a message in his visit to Mumbai. And that’s what we had expected. We are sure more concrete steps on the issue of terrorism will be discussed when the President meets our Prime Minister,” a government official said.
BJP spokesperson Rudy’s remarks also went against his party line. The party generally refrains from criticising a visiting head of state when the visit has just begun.
Rudy said, “It was the first address by the US President at a place (Taj hotel) which saw the biggest terror attack on India... it was a complete disappointment as the world and the United States had proof that the attack was planned on Pakistani soil by its intelligence agencies. He had words which were not backed with action and intent.”
The Congress, too, played down the issue. Party spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said, “It is too obvious to the world that the soil of Pakistan was used by the perpetrators of 26/11. It does not matter whether somebody mentions it or not. Even the US is still bombing within the territory of Pakistan to get rid of hardened terrorists.”
Rudy’s remarks left his party red-faced, taking some senior BJP leaders by surprise.
Many of these leaders are part of the core group of the BJP that will meet on Sunday at the residence of L.K. Advani to decide on the talking points between Obama and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj during their meeting on Monday.
The CPI also slammed Obama’s speech. D. Raja accused the US of pursuing “double standards” in the fight against terror, saying absence of any reference to Pakistan was “not surprising”.
Raja said the arrest of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba activist David Headley his interrogation had revealed that Pakistani soil was being used by various terror outfits to carry out activities.