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BJP scores against Congress on Pakistan, again

The BJP finds its aggressive stand on India-Pakistan relations always pays to corner the UPA govt and it has been so ever since the 2009 joint statement by the two countries that saw strong rumblings within the Congress. Shekhar Iyer reports.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2013 09:54 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times

The BJP finds its aggressive stand on India-Pak relations always pays — to corner the UPA government.

It has been so, say BJP leaders, ever since the 2009 joint statement by the two countries saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh go on the defensive after strong rumblings within the Congress over alleged concessions made by him to woo Islamabad.

That episode saw the government forced to clarify on the statement made in Shram El Sheikh after the Congress too pressed for clarification.

This time, the BJP took an aggressive posture after defence minister AK Antony said the five Indian jawans were killed by terrorists “dressed” in Pakistan army uniform at the LoC on Monday night. This was after the Army’s first version had mentioned the role of Pakistan army-led border action teams.

In tune with Narendra Modi, who has often turned the mood against the Congress, senior BJP leaders quizzed the government in Parliament.

Modi also tweeted: “From China’s intrusions to Pakistan’s ambushes — UPA government has been absolutely lax in securing Indian borders. When will the Centre wake up?”

Finally, as the party leaders saw it, their tactic of stalling both the Houses forced the PM to accept its demand for a clarification. In a new statement in the Parliament on Thursday, Antony finally accepted his “mistake” and informed both the Houses that it was indeed an attack by Pakistani troops.

As the mood in the BJP turned triumphant and the Congress thought it had cut its losses, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, rubbed in the point saying, “such errors should not be repeated and that the nation wants to know what concrete steps the government would take in this regard”.

Swaraj also rebutted the criticism that the BJP was playing politics on the issue. “We have maintained that the defence minister’s statement was wrong and we had demanded a correction. We want Pakistan to know that India will not tolerate repeated incidents like this. It cannot take our restraint for granted.”

Her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitely, said, “The government is obsessed with the idea of embracing Pakistan.”

But there’s no sign that the BJP will ease the pressure, as the PM meets Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in New York. Even after Antony’s clarification, senior BJP leader MM Joshi said, “I think he (PM) should take a cue from US President Barrack Obama who cancelled his meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin for giving asylum to somebody who was wanted by the USA.”