BJP wants Sonia Gandhi to apologise for Sandeep Dikshit’s ‘goonda’ jab at army chief
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BJP wants Sonia Gandhi to apologise for Sandeep Dikshit’s ‘goonda’ jab at army chief

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Dikshit’s comments show a “consistent pattern” among Congress members

india Updated: Jun 12, 2017 18:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP,Congress,Sandeep Dikshit
Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a press conference in Delhi on Monday.(ANI Twitter)

The Bharatiya Janata Party demanded on Monday the Congress leadership apologise for comments made by its member Sandeep Dikshit, who referred to the army chief as a “sadak ka gunda (a street goon)”.

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman called the comments shocking and outrageous in a press conference in the capital, setting the stage for a bigger confrontation between the two arch-rivals who have often clashed over the army.

“The Congress consistently, in a pattern, questions the integrity of the Indian Army… questions the army, to name them and shame them and demoralises them. A responsible party allows its well-known faces to go haywire and doesn’t bother about coming out clean on what its approach it about the Indian Army,” she said.

The Congress was quick to distance itself from Dikshit’s comment. Party vice president Rahul Gandhi told newspersons that no politician should comment on the army chief. “I don’t agree, not good…,” Rahul was quoted by news channels.

Training her guns at the Congress leadership, Sitharaman said on Monday: “...No less than Sonia Gandhi should apologise” for the comment that has “shocked the BJP” and led to “outrage everywhere”.

Dikshit has apologised for his remarks. On Sunday, hours after he made the controversial remark, he tweeted: “I have reservations on a comment of the Army Chief, but I should have chosen appropriate words. I apologise.”

But it failed to cut ice with the ruling party.

Sitharaman said comments attacking the army were “not made even when India lost a war soon after Independence when the Congress was in power”.

This is not the first time the BJP and the Congress have traded barbs over the army. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had in an election campaign last year accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using soldiers to score points, a reference to the surgical strikes carried out by India in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“You are hiding behind the blood of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in Jammu & Kashmir. Our jawans have given blood, they carried out surgical strikes. You are doing ‘khoon ki dalali’ with the blood of our martyrs,” Gandhi had said, triggering anger from Modi’s colleagues.

On Monday, CPI(M)’s Brinda Karat supported Dikshit.

“…But it is a matter of concern generally that the present Army chief’s statement result in controversy because the statements itself are quite objectionable,” Karat was quoted as saying by ANI.

First Published: Jun 12, 2017 18:49 IST