Lok Sabha elections 2019: Jaitley, Swaraj lead BJP charge, say Cong diluted national security
Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj accused the Congress of “redefining and diluting the idea of national security” and making promises that made “traitors and separatists happy”, hours after the opposition party released its election manifesto that, among other things, promised to do away with sedition law and amend the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Lashing out at the Congress, the Union finance minister said the promises made in the document was an “agenda for the Balkanisation of India”.
The manifesto said the sedition law was misused. It also said AFSPA, which is currently in force in parts of the insurgency-hit north-east and Jammu and Kashmir, needs to be amended.
Jaitley said “…It appears that some of the important points of this manifesto dealing with Jammu and Kashmir have been prepared by Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s friends in tukde tukde gang [forces who want to divide the nation].”
In a separate address to a BJP women workers’ meet in Nagpur, Swaraj said, “The Congress manifesto has made deshdrohi (traitor) and algavwadi (separatist) people happy. It is unfortunate for the country that on one side Prime Minister Narendra Modi is giving a befitting reply to Pakistan’s terror attacks with surgical and air strikes. On the other hand, the Congress president (Gandhi) is refusing to accept treason as a crime,” she said.
Jaitley lashed out at the Congress and said, “We are establishing rule of law, Congress wants to establish rules of terrorists and insurgents… there was no mention of the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits in the manifesto.”
Accusing the Congress of being “soft on terror”, he said while the then PM Rajiv Gandhi introduced the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), it was later revoked by the same party; similarly, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA) that was introduced was also later repealed.
Jaitley said India’s fight against terrorism did not start after 26 November, 2008 Mumbai attack; It had been dealing with insurgency and secessionist movements across various parts of the country for many decades.
“India has had to deal with terrorism like no other country…We lost a large part of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that the party wants to make soldiers who “lay down their life for their country, to be prosecuted at the behest of terrorist or the friends and relative”.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram responded to the BJP’s claims and said it may be impossible for the BJP to implement but not the Congress.
“I concede that it’s unimplementable by a BJP government but what do you assume that a future government can’t implement it. The BJP won’t answer and the Prime Minister won’t touch upon the subject of jobs, farmer’s distress, women and children security, the neglect of public education and healthcare institutions so why would they concede that it is implementable. It’s implementable by a competent and wise government and Congress will provide it,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Jaitley criticised the Congress’ minimum income guarantee scheme Nyay (Nyuntam Aay Yojana).
“Most economists have already rubbished the Congress party’s Nyay. Between the Centre and the states, we are already giving to the poorest 20% much more than what Nyay promises,” the finance minister said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala hit back at Jaitley, saying that the finance minister has revealed the “anti-poor” face of the BJP and questioning why the saffron party was against the Nyay scheme. “Why is the BJP against giving Rs 72,000 to 5 crore families? Modi ji should answer,” he said on Tuesday.
The BJP leader also criticised announcements on farm loan waivers, Goods and Services Tax and public health issues. He said the track record of Karnataka, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, shows that no effort has been made to waive farm loans and the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana [farm income support scheme] is on hold in Congress states.
“The Congress is only giving slogans on health care,” he said.