BJP softens stance after PM acts tough

Even as the BJP was satisfied with the prime minister’s “no business as usual with Pakistan” repartee, the opposition party on Tuesday wanted to know why it took so long for Manmohan Singh to take a strong stand against Pakistan after the “pre-mediated” killing of Indian soldiers in the Mendhar sector of Jammu on January 8.

“The fact that it has taken so long for the prime minister to react makes me wonder if today’s reaction is out of conviction or compulsion. I hope this marks the burial of the Sharm-al-Sheikh line,” BJP leader Arun Jaitley said.

Jaitley’s statement came hours after the prime minister’s emissary, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, met leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha – Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely respectively– on Tuesday morning to brief them about the UPA government’s strategy on the counter-offensive to be launched against Pakistan. The meeting took place at Swaraj’s residence.

Describing the meeting as successful, Swaraj said: “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been able to convey displeasure to Pakistan after sensing the country’s mood.” She was speaking at a function to launch a website dedicated to former prime minister and BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

She also praised the BJP for “successfully communicating the mood of the nation to the prime minister.” Singh on Tuesday said there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan. Swaraj said she also conveyed to Menon that besides registering “protests” and “displeasure,” the prime minister should understand the pulse of the nation and take tough measures against Pakistan.

She said Singh had called her and Jaitely on Monday to apprise them of the situation after the killing of the Indian soldiers.   

“If his (Lance Naik Hemraj) head could not be brought back (from Pakistan), we should get at least 10 heads from there side,” Swaraj told reporters after visiting Hemraj’s family in Mathura. She was accompanied by BJP president Nitin Gadkari and senior leader Rajnath Singh, who had earlier called for scaling down diplomatic relations with Pakistan.

Earlier, at the function, Swaraj drew a comparison between the prime minister and Vajpayee. “Manmohan Singh is the prime minister, but he is not a leader. Leave aside being a leader of the nation, he (Singh) is not even a leader of his own party...Atalji was a prime minister as well as the leader of the nation,” she remarked
Swaraj did not spare UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi as well. “Whatever bad is happening in the UPA, it is this government which is responsible for it and whatever good is being done, it is being done by their leader Sonia Gandhi,” she quipped, taking a dig at Gandhi.

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