Opposition cautions BJP against Pulwama politicisation

Last Updated 27 February 2019, 19:56 IST

Wary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi exploiting the aerial strike against Pakistan ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, 21 opposition parties on Wednesday asked the BJP not to “politicise” the issue at a time when national security should be of paramount concern.

Leaders of 21 parties held a three-hour meeting convened by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, with the Pulwama attacks and the subsequent air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot dominating the discussions.

As the meeting progressed, reports about the shooting of an IAF MiG 21 aircraft and
the capture of a Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman by Pakistani security forces trickled in. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strident posture and the offer of peace talks also figured in the deliberations of the opposition leaders.

“At the meeting, 21 parties expressed their deep anguish over the blatant politicisation of the sacrifices made by our armed forces by leaders of the ruling party,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi told reporters.

He was flanked by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, CPI(M) Secretary General Sitaram Yechury among others.

“National security must transcend narrow political considerations. The leaders observed that the Prime Minister has, regrettably, not convened an all-party meeting as per the established practice in our democracy,” Rahul said.

At the outset, the leaders praised the “valour and bravery” of the armed forces and condemned Pakistan’s “misadventure” of targeting the military installations and the loss of one fighter aircraft.

Expressing deep concern over the safety of the “missing pilot”, the opposition leaders urged the Modi government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India’s sovereignty, unity and integrity.

A section of the opposition appeared rattled by the BJP’s all-out attempt to gain maximum political mileage out of the Pulwama attack and the subsequent air strikes, with at least one leader declaring that Modi had already won the elections.

Another section wanted the opposition to go all out against Modi and the BJP, but was cautioned by Pawar, who noted that the national mood should be taken into account before taking any extreme step.

However, Pawar’s suggestion against naming Modi and the BJP in the joint statement was accepted and the leaders only made a reference to the “leaders of the ruling party”. There was also consensus among the opposition on the need to raise issues related to the job crisis and the agrarian distress across the country.

(Published 27 February 2019, 13:40 IST)

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