New Delhi: Opposition leaders condemned the Narendra Modi government for politicising the sacrifices of the Armed forces on a day an Air Force pilot was declared missing in action after an aerial engagement with the Pakistani air force.
Leaders of 21 parties, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar met for more than three hours to discuss the developing situation with Pakistan.
They condemned the Pulwama terror attack by “Pakistan-sponsored terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammed on 14th February 2019”, and lauded the action taken by the Indian Air Force.
At the end of the meeting, Rahul Gandhi read out a joint statement issued by the leaders.
“The meeting of 21 parties expressed their deep anguish over the blatant politicisation of the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces by leaders of the ruling party. National security must transcend narrow political considerations,” he said.
The statement further pointed out that the Prime Minister did not convene an-all party meeting “as per the established practice in our democracy”.
Each leader apparently spoke for about 10 minutes on their concerns over national security. “Soon after our armed forces destroyed the terrorist camp, the Prime Minister, rather than taking the entire country into confidence, was busy seeking credit during a rally. This brazen politicisation is dangerous even for Modi. He might be the Prime Minister today but he’s setting a wrong precedent,” said a party leader who attended the meeting.
According to a source, the gathering decided to hold a sepratae meeting to raise the issue of common minimum programme.
“The only issue we focused on was national securities. All the political party leaders expressed their concern over the situation and pointed out that this blatant politicisation is dangerous even for PM Modi,” said a source.
The leaders also discussed the ministry of external affairs (MEA)’s statement, and Pakistan’s actions in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Post the statement from the MEA regarding targeting of our military installations and loss of one fighter aircraft, the leaders condemned the Pakistani misadventure and expressed their deep concern for the safety of our missing pilot. Leaders urged the government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India’s sovereignty, unity and integrity,” said a leader at the meeting.
The Congress also took exception to the BJP attempting to gain mileage on the issue, criticising Home Minister Rajnath Singh for attending a party programme.
“While we have postponed and cancelled our rallies, home minister Rajnath Singh was busy attending a BJP programme on election preparation in Chhattisgarh. Even the Prime Minister rather than taking the nation in confidence was busy launching an app for promoting health and fitness,” said a Congress leader.
Senior Congress leader Surjewala said that his party also decided to postpone the Congress Working Commitee (CWC) scheduled for Thursday and the rally that was to take place in Adalaj on the directions of Gandhi.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.