New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that the strike against a terror camp in Pakistan had nothing to do with domestic politics and accused opposition parties of making statements that people in Pakistan were happy about.
“It (the aerial strike) has nothing to do with domestic politics and it was taken purely in the interest of security,” he told the India Today conclave here.
Jaitley gave this answer when asked about Karnataka BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa’s statement that the party will sweep 22 of the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats because of the strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot.
“It should not have been done and the party took a very categorical stand against his statement,” he said.
He took exception to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks that there was a “mad rush” on the part of India and Pakistan to get into a conflagration, and wondered how Singh could equate the two countries on moral and other grounds.
Jaitley also referred to a meeting of 22 opposition leaders who pretended to stand shoulder to shoulder with the government but said certain things which were immediately cited in Pakistan in their favour.
Asked whether the return of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India marks a de-escalation or whether there could be further action, Jaitley said he would not like to discuss military strategies but emphasise that India’s position on terrorism will remain unchanged till such time Pakistan takes specific steps to address roots of terror emanating from its soil.
Asked whether Balakot attack mark a new normal in India strategy, he said India, in the last few years, has emerged as an important country in the world with fastest-growing economy which would become the fifth-largest in a few years and third-largest in a decade.
Asked about the message from the Balakot attack, Jaitley said India had suffered a huge cost from terrorism with a lot of resources being spent on security. “Therefore, India has to attack the roots of terror.”
To a question about the opposition charge that the Pulwama attack on the CRPF convoy was a massive intelligence failure, he said when he was recently in the US, he had a lot of time to read and write.
He said he had written then that “India has a fair share of compulsive contrarians and Nawabs of negativity which is okay in the democracy but as far as India is concerned, there are ever so many instances when the security forces foil terror attacks. The terrorists choose their target and time.”
He said they could also ask the same about 26/11 Mumbai attack but “I don’t want to”.
“The national mood is one of positivity. It is the miniscule minority which is asking, that is democracy,” Jaitley said.
Replying to a question about the BJP’s approach to winning the hearts of Kashmiris and the coalition experience with the Peoples Democratic Party, the Minister admitted that the coalition experiment did not work.
“There is only one answer… we have to carry the people of Kashmir are with us. Our stand is against the separatists and terrorists. People have to be with us. Some of the mainstream parties in the state have not lived up to what was expected in the last 15 days. Suddenly you feel the whole journey has been from Sufism to Wahabbism in the last two and two-and-half decades,” he said.
Asked about the coming Lok Sabha elections and the prospects of the BJP, Jaitley said he is not like to be psephologist but India has become an aspirational society and he doesn’t think that it would commit a suicide.
He said India has to have a powerful Central government and you cannot have a confederation of states on the basis of a vote bank game.
“I don’t want to sound immodest but what is the choice. We have had at least four or five experiences of the so-called Mahagathbandhan. There was the Chandrashekhar government, Charan Singh government, I.K. Gujral, Deve Gowda and V.P. Singh governments whose longevity was for just six months.
“Our nation is going to choose a government for five years or six months. A coalition with a strong nucleus is understandable with like-minded parties or a common minimum programme. But their CMP is we have to remove one man and people don’t know about their longevity,” Jaitley said.