BJP president Amit Shah on Friday hit back at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for suggesting that his party was using the Indian Army’s surgical strike across the Line of Control for political gains ahead of crucial assembly elections.
On Thursday, Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “profiteering” from the blood of soldiers who have given their lives for the nation. Gandhi also wrote on Twitter to say that he supported the army’s strikes but condemned the use of soldiers in political posters across the country.
“I strongly condemn his remarks. They are an insult not only to the brave armed forces and martyrs but the entire country. Is the blood of our soldiers something that you can trade?” the BJP chief asked during a press conference.
“The use of the word “dalali for soldiers” shows the Congress’ mindset. The word is synonymous with the opposition party whose leaders were embroiled in several scams worth thousands of crores,” Shah said.
Shah was pointing at scams under the Congress-led rule surrounding the Bofors gun, the 2G spectrum auction and the Embraer aircraft, for which millions of dollars were allegedly paid as kickbacks.
The BJP chief said just like his earlier comments “maut ka saudagar” and “zeher ki kheti”, Gandhi’s latest tirade will only consolidate the public anger in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Shah said Gandhi should concentrate on the “potato factory” for farmers instead as his understanding of the problems of the agriculture sector is limited.
He also lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for seeking proof of the surgical strikes and said the valour of the armed forces has been questioned.
“Who is being questioned? The soldiers who risked their lives? What did Arvind 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.
The BJP is in the crosshairs of the opposition parties for trying to draw mileage from the strikes for its electoral gains.
As evidence, the opposition has drawn attention to the posters that have come up in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, which show PM Modi as Lord Rama and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif as Ravana.
Shah was quick to attribute these posters to the decisions taken by leaders at the “tehsil level”. He said the strikes are an achievement of the armed forces but not without crediting PM Modi for his leadership.
He added that his party won’t desist from using the issue during the upcoming state assembly elections to boost the “morale of the forces” even as he tried to assert that it was not for political gains.
‘Stop the politics’
The much-publicised army operation is turning into a political slugfest, with the opposition asking the Modi government to furnish evidence to call “Pakistan’s bluff”.
Upcoming elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, is widely believed to be the reason why the opposition parties are asking for proof but couching it as a must to quash Pakistan’s propaganda.
At a press conference in Delhi, the Congress attacked Shah for saying that Gandhi had crossed all limits and insulted the army.
“Those who have murder charges against them, those who have been in the jail, those are now trying to find faults in Rahul Gandhi,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.
“Stop putting up these posters claiming credit -- it was the Indian Army who should be hailed; stop this politics.”
The Congress blamed the ruling party for the spurt in militancy, saying a BJP government had released Maulana Masood Azhar during the Kandahar aeroplane hijack in 1999. Azhar went on to launch the terror group, Jaish-e-Mohammed.
“You gave birth to Jaish-e-Mohammed and then you level allegations on the Congress. They released Masood Azhar,” Sibal said.