The high voltage political controversy was kicked off by former Home Minister P Chidambaram, who demanded “proof” of the strikes. He has also stated that it is not first of its kind. In 2013 too when UPA was in power, surgical strikes were carried but no propaganda was made, Chidambaram said.
He was followed by Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam calling the strikes as “fake”, provoking stinging criticism from BJP even as his own party said it “totally dissociates” from his remarks.
“Every Indian wants surgical strikes against Pakistan but not a fake one to extract just political benefit by BJP.
Its nothing but politics over national interest(sic),” Nirupam tweeted, kicking up a row over the emotive issue.
Sensing that Congress has unofficially started questioning its stance, BJP top leadership has immediately swung into action sending the experienced Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for IT, to counter Congress.
Addressing media, Mr Prasad lambasted the Congress for what he called as “degrading nation’s image” before the international community. “You are suspecting the great sacrifices made by the army. You are humiliating the armed forces and their valor. What do you do with the evidence? Your leader expressed solidarity with the government and you are making such remarks. Is this Congress’ official line?” Ravishankar Prasad asked.
Next to attack the Congress was Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. “You can say anything but do not hurt the sentiments of armed forces. Every kid in India supports the valour of our army” he said in Kargil, after paying tributes to the martyrs.
Next came the fire brand minister Uma Bharathi. With patriotic sentiments running high amid soaring tensions with Pakistan, Uma Bharti said leaders who cast “doubt over the army’s surgical strike should take Pakistani citizenship”.
“Those leaders who say that if Pakistan is demanding evidence about surgical strike, they should be given the evidence, such people should take the citizenship of Pakistan,” Bharti told reporters in Pune.
Congress leaders continued to corner the Centre with same demand of “release the proof i.e. the video showing surgical strikes”. Digvijay Singh too made similar comment.
Congress senior spokesman Anand Sharma had also sought to dismiss the claim that the surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads was the first such retaliation by the Indian Army, insisting that it had responded earlier too “as per the need or provocation”.
“Around a week ago when the DGMO on behalf of the government announced that a surgical strike has been carried out against the Pak terror camps in PoK, we all supported. Honourable Sonia Gandhi supported, Rahul Gandhi supported, even I personally supported it. But the way BJP has put banners all over the country, the way surgical strike is being politicised, used for political benefit and simultaneously from all over the world questions are being raised on the reality of the surgical strike, we have the questions to ask the government,” he said.
“Congress dissociates itself from Nirupam’s remarks and has taken a serious note. It’s time for the government to expose Pakistan’s malicious propaganda. The evidence should be made public,” said party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
It appears the ugly row erupted as the elections to big states like UP and Punjab are a few months away and Congress is desparate to counter BJP’s new ground plank of “nationalism”.
Congress which is trying to revive its fortunes in UP, has targeted BJP directly with the attack to dilute any attempt of polarization of Brahmin votes, a dominant section in UP.