BJP, Cong trade barbs over Pak's Rahul reference

BJP, Cong trade barbs over Pak's Rahul reference

Pakistan referred to Gandhi's remarks to the media made on August 10 in the middle of a Congress Working Committee (AFP photo)

The BJP and the Congress party traded "anti-national" barb on each other as a political row kicked up over Rahul Gandhi's remarks on Kashmir, which Pakistan cited in a letter to United Nations Human Rights Council to project human rights violation in the valley.

At least three Union Ministers speaking separately to media lambasted Rahul and the Congress party for giving "support" to Pakistan while Congress, which swiftly swung into a damage control mode, lambasted Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar as "Misinformation Minister" and wondered "up to which level the BJP will sink."

The BJP came out all guns blazing with Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Prakash Javadekar, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and its spokesperson Shahnawan Hussain seeking to paint Rahul and Congress as pro-Pakistan.

Back-to-back press conferences were held by Javadekar and Congress Communication department chief Randeep Surjewala in the national capital.

The background

The row erupted after Pakistan, in its letter to UNHRC, said that acts of violence in Kashmir even been acknowledged by mainstream politicians, such as the leader of the Congress party Rahul Gandhi. Pakistan referred to Gandhi's remarks to the media made on August 10 in the middle of a Congress Working Committee meeting in which he had said, "there are reports of violence, there are reports of people dying in Jammu and Kashmir."

After Pakistan's UNHRC letter, Rahul was quick to post tweets slamming Pakistan for instigating and supporting violence in Jammu and Kashmir and asserting that Kashmir is India's internal issue. Congress too castigated the neighbouring country for "mischievously" dragging his name.

However, the BJP went hammer and tongs against Rahul. Recalling that "it is not for the first time that Pakistan is finding support from Rahul Gandhi," Union Minister Smriti Irani said the Congress leader is liked by Pakistan and he cares little for the tri-colour.

Minority Affairs Minister Naqvi mocked it with remark Rahul Gandhi ki Naadani, Congress ki Pareshani (The immaturity of Rahul is the trouble of Congress) and pointed towards the divergent stand taken by a number of Congress leaders on Article 370.

Ratcheting it up further, Javadekar at a press conference said that nobody says about one's own nation what Rahul Gandhi said, and alleged that the Congress party has "insulted" the country by its "insensitive and irresponsible" of Rahul. A short video clip of Rahul’s remarks on Kashmir, which were cited by Pakistan in its UNHRC letter, was shown during the press briefing in the BJP’s national headquarters.

“Never in the last 70 years, such a statement was given. This has given a handle to Pakistan. Rahul's statement is such that it brings shame to the nation. He played into the hands of Pakistan. He should apologise.”

Javadekar also rubbished Gandhi’s remarks on Pakistan saying he made a “total U-turn” after sensing the anger among people.

Countering Javadekar, Surjewala, on one hand, trained guns on Pakistan calling it “mother of all terrorist organisations”, he also, on the other hand, asked “Mr Javadekar, if the country is united on the issue... Has Mr. Prakash Javadekar any objection to it. Do not make it an issue of cheap petty politics. It will be anti-national.”