Political parties spar over surgical strikes (Intro Roundup)

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New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) The BJP and the Congress indulged in a bitter war of words on Friday over the Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir with latter accusing the ruling party of using the military operation for political propaganda.

A day after Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of doing “dalali” (profiteering) over the sacrifices of Indian soldiers, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah called a press conference and said Gandhi “crossed his limit”.

The Congress, in turn, accused the ruling party of politicising the strike, and the BJP called a second press conference in the day to rebut Congress charges.

Not staying behind, the Congress too called second press conference and accused the BJP of insulting the army by saying that the Indian Army didn’t have the courage to control the Line of Control (LoC) for 68 years.

On Friday morning, Shah demanded a clarification from Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Rahul Gandhi’s “dalali” remark.

“By saying ‘dalali’ over soldiers’ blood, Rahul Gandhi has crossed all limits. The remark reflects the Congress’ mentality,” Shah said.

“I want to ask Gandhi: Does he perceive our soldiers’ blood to be a thing to do ‘dalali’ (trade) with. His words are an insult to the armed forces and the country as a whole. I want to ask what dalali is he talking about,” asked Shah.

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Shah also asked Rahul Gandhi to focus on issues pertaining to “Alu ki factory” (potato factory) instead of making statements on such sensitive issues.

Shah also targeted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“It was Kejriwal who started the trend of doubting the surgical strikes and casting aspersions on the bravery of our armed forces,” he said.

Soon after, Congress called a press conference, where party leader Kapil Sibal blamed the BJP for formation of the Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Sibal also came down heavily on Shah for his attack on the Congress Vice President.

“The people who have been to jail and who have murder cases against them are pointing fingers at others. We never imagined the Bharatiya Janata Party will stoop so low,” Sibal said.

Taking a dig at the BJP, Sibal said, “Today these attacks happened as they (BJP) released Jaish-e-Mohammad militant Maulana Masood Azhar.”

“If BJP hadn’t released Maulana Masood Azhar then the JeM wouldn’t have taken birth,” Sibal alleged.

The BJP responded soon after with union Minister Ravishankar Prasad holding a press conference.

“For them (Congress), defending Rahul Gandhi is more important than defending the country,” Prasad said.

“Yesterday (Thursday), it was very embarrassing (for the Congress). I know some Congress leaders who are disturbed because of what he had said,” said the minister.

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He also slammed Congress for saying the BJP was responsible for creation of JeM.

“What does Congress mean by saying that the BJP created Jaish-e-Mohammed It is the ISI which will be the most happiest people on hearing the remarks,” he said.

The Congress then hurriedly called its second press meet and accused the BJP of insulting the army.

“BJP President Amit Shah today (Friday) insulted the Indian Army in front of the nation by saying that for 68 years, Indian Army didn’t have the courage to control the Line of Control (LoC),” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here.

“If the army didn’t try to control the LoC for 68 years, then is former Army chief Gen. Bikram Singh and other former Army Chiefs lying to the nation? Or do you want to perform final rites to the sacrifices and valour of army?” he asked.

Asking the BJP if it had forgotten the 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 wars, Surjewala charged the ruling party with “politicising” the Army’s cross-border surgical strikes and trying to “colour the valour and sacrifice of Indian Army into its doctrine”.

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“Our soldiers have laid down their lives for the country, as they live and die for the tricolour,” he added.

Similarly, Amit Shah was attacked by Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia for criticizing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the surgical strikes.

Sisodia said in a tweet: “So now Amit Shah will issue certificates of patriotism?”

Saying Amit Shah was not even qualified to take Kejriwal’s name, Sisodia described the BJP President as a “black spot” on issues of political probity.

Sisodia went on: “The army is ours. It belongs to the people. The soldiers belong to the people. Who has made Amit Shah a spokesperson for the army?”

Indian commandos raided terrorist launch pads across the LoC in Pakistani territory on the intervening night of September 28-29, killing an unspecified number of terrorists. Pakistan denies this happened.

The strike was carried out after the terror attack on an Army camp in Uri, where 17 soldiers were killed and two succumbed to injuries later.

While certain political leaders have sought a proof of the attack, the central government has not so far spoken about sharing any evidence.

According to Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, the video has been handed over to the Prime Minister’s Office.



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