The political party headed by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday sought to take advantage of a comment by B S Yeddyurappa, chief of Bharatiya Janata Party’s unit in Karnataka, on political dividend of Indian Air Force’s strike on a terrorist training camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of the neighbouring country.
In a post on Twitter on Thursday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), the ruling party in the neighbouring country, referred to Yeddyurappa’s recent comment that India's air strikes on the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s camp in Pakistan on Tuesday had resulted in a wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and would help the BJP win over 22 of 28 Lok Sabha seats from Karnataka in the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place by May.
“Air Force excursions, war mongering, soldiers in captivity and the lives of so many people in danger all equate to 22 seats in the eyes of representatives on India’s ruling party. Is war an election option?” the PTI posted on Twitter.
Earlier, when eminent Indian journalist Barkha Dutt posted a comment on the remark of Karnataka BJP chief, Imran Khan’s party took note of it and tweeted: “We hope you understand that you were manipulated into warmongering. #LetBetterSensePrevail; isolate the ppl (people) who r (are) desperate to win an election. War is in no nation’s interest, & (and) its soldiers & (and) civilians who are the collateral damage. Don’t let one man use it for political mileage”.
Dutt protested and tweeted that it was “highly inappropriate” for the PTI to try to take advantage of the comment by Yeddyurappa and the domestic politics and debate of India. “Highly inappropriate, unacceptable and inflammatory for an official party handle to be tweeting this. India speaks in one strong voice against terrorism. Our domestic politics and debate are our business and no one else's. Please focus on your own matters. Thank you”, she tweeted.
“When your domestic politicking is taking the region to a brink of war, and Pakistan being dragged in, it becomes our business. We will reiterate the PM’s stance and say #LetBetterSensePrevail. We have been victims of terrorism. The solution is with dialogue. #SayNoToWar,” replied Imran Khan’s party.
The PTI has been alleging political motives behind India’s air-strikes inside Pakistan in its tweets.
“There is a new leadership in Pakistan today, that wants peace but will not bow down where it’s sovereignty is concerned. Since taking power, PM Imran Khan has at multiple occasions reiterated the need for a dialogue and resolution,” it tweeted early on Thursday. “But a desperate bid to win an election by one man is gripping an entire nation in war hysteria. India needs to realise that war is in no one’s interest except Narendra Modi; whose escalating ego is reminiscent of dictators who started world wars.#SayNoToWar.”
“The time for peace is now, and the time to reject politics that exploit an entire nation’s army and its public for one man’s political ambitions is now. Let better sense prevail. #SayNoToWar,” tweeted the PTI, which came to power in Pakistan in August 2018.
Criticism from political opponents
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah hit out at Yeddyurappa on Twitter. “Shocking & disgusting to understand #BJPsPlot4Vote. It is unfortunate that BJP is calculating electoral gains even before the dust has settled. No patriot shall derive such sadistic gains over soldiers' death, only an anti-nationalist can. What will RSS say about this?”
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, too, targeted Yeddyurappa. “The entire nation is united in supporting the central govt & our armed forces to fight terrorism, while BJP leader Yeddyurappa is busy calculating how many extra LS seats the terror attack & Pak war can bring to his party. It's shameful to exploit our jawans' sacrifice for electoral gains,” he said in a tweet.
Out of context: BSY clarifies
On Thursday, Yeddyurappa tweeted to clarify: “My statement is being reported out of context. I said that ‘situation favourable for BJP’ which I am saying for last couple of months (sic). This is not first time that I said BJP in Karnataka will win minimum 22 seats under the able leadership of Modi ji.”
Later speaking to reporters, Yeddyurappa brushed the controversy aside. “Where’s the question of using the situation for politics? All political parties, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, have welcomed (India’s action). There’s no question of politicising this,” he said.
In a fresh tweet, Yeddyurappa clarified thus: "I would like to clarify that my yesterday’s statement has been completely misinterpreted. I have highest regard for our armed forces. I salute the bravery of our men in fighting for the country’s safety. I stand along with my fellow countrymen and pray for the safe return of Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. To me, the Nation comes first and then the party."