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‘Blatant politicisation of sacrifices made by armed forces’: 21 oppn parties

Opposition parties condemned Pulwama terror attack and alleged that the ruling BJP is politicising sacrifices made by the jawans.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2019 22:38 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Saubhadra Chatterji and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Opposition Meet,Pulwama Terror Attack
Leaders of 21 opposition parties condemned Pulwama terror attack and alleged that the ruling BJP has used the sacrifices made by the jawans for political purposes.(HT photo)

Most mainstream opposition parties on Wednesday expressed “deep concern over for the safety of the missing Indian pilot” and “condemned Pakistani misadventure” but also expressed “deep anguish” over the ruling party’s “blatant politicization” of the sacrifices made by Indian armed forces.

Their statement came after an over-120 minute meeting of 21 political parties in the Parliament’s annexe.

Interestingly, the meeting witnessed an admission by some opposition leaders that politicising the issue could actually be counter-productive because they cannot “beat the Bharatiya Janata Party” on this nor be seen to be “criticising the government at this time” HT has learnt.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and some others insisted that the Opposition return to the narrative of jobs, farm crisis and corruption, people familiar with the proceedings of the meeting said on condition of anonymity. There were also suggestions that the parties meet again soon to take stock of the fluid situation.

At the end of the meeting Gandhi, flanked by West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, read out a joint statement. The parties “lauded the action taken by the Indian Air Force against the terrorist camp on 26th February 2019 and praised our armed forces for their valour and bravery. National security must transcend narrow political considerations. The leaders observed that the Prime Minister has, regrettably, not convened an-all party meeting as per the established practice in our democracy” according to the statement.

The meeting also paid homage to the martyrs and condemned the “dastardly Pulwama terror attack by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammed”, while expressing solidarity with Indian Armed Forces in “crushing the menace of terrorism”. The leaders expressed concern on the “emerging security situation”. “Post the statement from the MEA (ministry of external affairs) regarding targeting of our military installations (by Pakistani Air Force on Wednesday morning) and loss of one fighter aircraft, the leaders condemned the Pakistani misadventure and expressed their deep concern for the safety of our missing pilot. Leaders urged the Government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India’s sovereignty, unity and integrity,” the statement added.

United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi initiated the discussions, saying that the leaders condemned the terror attacks. She added that the parties have to also wake up to the current situation that Pakistan has retaliated.

Yechury, who spoke next, pointed out how BJP president Amit Shah compared the NDA regime with that of the UPA when speaking of India’s attack on the Jaish camp. He maintained that while the situation should not escalate to a war, “we make note of how the BJP is misusing the situation”.

Mamata Banerjee wanted that the Opposition should not be on the defensive and claimed that the Prime Minister and his party have launched a political campaign around the issue of the air strike on the camp. Telugu Desam Party chief and Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu agreed with her. JDS leader Danish Ali pointed out that while his party’s HD Devegowda was dubbed as a weak PM , “when he demitted office there was peace in Kashmir and also the elections were held after nearly 10 years”. He added that the Kandahar hijacking happened and Jaish founder “Masood Azhar was escorted out of India” by the BJP after it came to power

Yechury also said that the Opposition would find it difficult to beat Modi on this agenda: “We have to change the prevailing agenda and go back to people’s issues. A chief minister of a south Indian state echoed similar sentiments and quipped that if this India versus Pakistan narrative goes on, then “the BJP benefits”.

The final statement, drafted by Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, underwent changes as leaders argued over the correct choice of words. NCP’s Sharad Pawar, who provided his red pen for corrections, objected to attacking the Prime Minister now. “We must keep in mind the mood of the country,” Pawar said according to the people familiar with the proceedings.

He also disapproved any mention of “no escalation” in the statement and said, “If Pak escalates the situation to a war, India has no other choice but to respond.”

Former PM Manmohan Singh, Tiruchi Shiva (DMK), Satish Chandra Misra(BSP), Manoj Jha(RJD), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Sudhakar Reddy (CPI), JMM’s Shibu Soren, RLSP’s Upendra Kushwaha were also present in the meeting

First Published: Feb 27, 2019 17:59 IST