Mayawati's Sunday rally in Lucknow heightened the political tension in Uttar Pradesh as her remarks stirred up a slew of reactions from the opposition parties.
BSP supremo Mayawati's remark that the Centre could have delayed the surgical strikes to reap political mileage in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls triggered a sharp exchange between the ruling BJP and opposition parties which chose to side with the Dalit leader.
While BJP accused Mayawati of communalising the UP poll campaign and using caste to gain electoral mileage, Congress said the ruling party at the Centre was trying to use the army's surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the LoC for its political gain in the poll-bound state.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have thought of taking political ownership of surgical strikes but doing politics over the action harms the country and such politics is not a matter of honour for the army.
"Indian army is separate from politics. It will be unfortunate that decisions and actions of army are being used for political mileage," Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.
JDU leader KC Tyagi said the valour of Indian Army is pride of the nation and it cannot become the programme of a political party. "Those who are doing it are hurting Indian Army," he said.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said that by raising suspicion on the strikes, the opposition leaders are giving fodder to Pakistan and ISI to run propaganda against India. "The country will not forgive them for this," he said. Another BJP spokesperson, Meenakshi Lekhi, said Mayawati does politics of casteism that comes within communal politics. "BJP does politics of communal harmony, not the politics of communalism or casteism. The people doing such casteist or communal politics should correct themselves rather than raising questions about us," she said.
Addressing a rally in Lucknow on the occasion of party founder Kanshi Ram's 10th death anniversary, Mayawati said a "war hysteria" was being sought to be created by the BJP over the surgical assault, which she said was the right move, but one that came too late.
"There is a feeling among people that this (the strikes) could have been delayed for taking political and electoral mileage," she said, adding had the military action been conducted after the Pathankot attack in January, the lives of 19 soldiers in Uri could have been saved.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha asked whether such brave actions by Indian soldiers should be turned into "cheap Bollywood" style posters by BJP? "Is this the way they look at surgical strikes? Is this the way they look at covert operation? Where we are heading to? (BJP President) Amit Shah does not realise that he is demeaning the morale of India army and Indian army is not a
"It has stood upright in difficult circumstances. I would request the Prime Minister that surgical strikes should not be used for narrow, parochial, right wing gains in the manner of surgical propaganda," Jha said.
Amid demands by opposition parties for proof to back the claim of surgical strikes, Mayawati said and the army alone and not the government should take a decision on this. She also hit out at the Centre for trying to gain "political mileage" by taking credit for the Army's operation. She equated the present "hype" over the strikes with the mood in the US after its forces eliminated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
Lashing out at the Prime Minister for "failing" to fulfil promises made during the Lok Sabha polls, Mayawati said that all sections of society were today feeling "cheated". "The politics being played in the garb of strikes has never be seen earlier," she said, adding that the speech delivered by PM Modi on August 15 indicated that anything can be done for gaining political mileage.
Meanwhile, Mayawati's appeal to Muslim community to refrain from voting for SP and Congress drew sharp comments from UP Chief Minister and Akhilesh Yadav. Attacking BSP supremo Akhilesh said they still remember BSP's proximity with BJP. Putting Mayawati on the dock for her earlier alliance with BJP, Akhilesh asked, "Can she give assurance that if a majority govornment is not formed, she would not take the support of BJP."
With inputs from PTI