The ruling BJP and its main rival accused each other on Friday of playing politics over soldiers’ sacrifice, after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “profiteering” from the army’s surgical strike on militant hideouts in Pakistan.
BJP chief Amit Shah led the party’s counter-offensive against Gandhi’s accusation that Modi was doing “khoon ki dalali” or profiteering from the surgical strikes on “terror launch pads” across the Line of Control, the de facto border in Jammu and Kashmir.
The strategic action was carried out after last month’s militant attack on the Uri army base in which 19 soldiers were killed.
“Is the blood of our soldiers something that you can trade?” Shah asked and put the Congress leader’s remarks in the same league as “maut ka saudagar”, an old comment from the party referring to Modi.
The army raids were being touted as revenge for Uri and could become a talking point for next year’s assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
Posters hailing Modi for the raids have surfaced in UP, prompting the Congress and BSP chief Mayawati to allege that the BJP was trying to gain political mileage out of the military action.
“I fully support the surgical strikes and I have said so unequivocally, but I will not support using the Indian army in political posters and propaganda all across the country,” Gandhi tweeted, standing by his “dalali” remarks.
The political slugfest came on a day home minister Rajnath Singh announced sealing the entire the India-Pakistan border , while the finance minister said in Washington that every major terrorist incident in the world has a Pakistani footprint.
The blame game over the surgical strikes broke out on Tuesday when Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam called the military action “fake” and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked the government to release proof to counter Pakistani propaganda against the operation.
Mayawati, a political rival to both Congress and BJP, “condemned” the attempt to profit from the army’s cross-border action ahead of the UP polls.
“Only the army should be felicitated and hailed for it not any leader, the defence minister or the Prime Minister,” she said.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal called for a stop to “this poster-baazi” and “politics on the army’s successes”.
BJP chief Shah attributed these posters to decisions taken by local leaders, but credited the Prime Minister for his leadership. He insisted that his party won’t desist from using the issue during the elections to boost the “morale” of the armed forces.
He lashed out at the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for seeking proof.
“Who is being questioned … the soldiers who risked their lives? What did Kejriwal want when he asked for proof? And after his statements, Kejriwal began trending (on social media) in Pakistan. From this, it is clear his words have helped whom,” he said.
Shah tried to corner the Congress, with scams such as Bofors guns deal and 2G spectrum auction when the party was in power.
“The use of the word dalali for soldiers shows the Congress’s mindset. The word is synonymous with the opposition party whose leaders were embroiled in several scams worth thousands of crores,” he said.
Shah said Gandhi should concentrate on the “potato factory” for farmers as his understanding of the problems of agriculture sector is limited to that only. He was referring to Gandhi’s remarks made at a public meeting during his Delhi to Deoria march in UP.
Congress leader Sibal hit back, accusing the BJP of “giving birth” to Jaish-e-Mohammed as it was during the previous NDA government that the militant outfit’s chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, was released from jail in a hostage exchange.
But the BJP was not alone in criticising Gandhi’s remarks . The AAP too latched on to the issue.
“Such words (dalali) should not have been used by Rahul Gandhi. These are the times for us unite & stand along army,” Kejriwal tweeted.