What Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have been doing while the Jaish-e-Mohammad engineered the suicide attack that killed over 40 Central Reserve Police Force soldiers in Pulwama on 14 February, has given birth to a pitched Twitter battle involving Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Congress social media in-charge Divya Spandana and the official Twitter handles of the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party.
At a media interaction on Thursday, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had said Modi had been shooting for a documentary at the Jim Corbett National Park on the afternoon when the suicide attack took place.
The photographs of Modi from that day, which were displayed by Surjewala, were tweeted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday. Calling Modi the "prime time minister," Rahul said the prime minister had continued shooting for the film three hours after news of the Pulwama terror strike came in.
Using the hashtag #PhotoShootSarkar, Rahul sought to highlight how Modi was seemingly oblivious while "there was an ocean of pain in the country's hearts."
पुलवामा में 40 जवानों की शहादत की खबर के तीन घंटे बाद भी ‘प्राइम टाइम मिनिस्टर’ फिल्म शूटिंग करते रहे।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) February 22, 2019
Within an hour of Rahul's tweet, the official handle of the BJP had tweeted that the photos were "from that morning" (and therefore could not be used to prove that Modi was shooting during the afternoon attack) and accused Rahul of peddling fake news. The tweet also, even more damningly, said Rahul may have known of the attack in "advance."
Rahul Ji, India is tired of your fake news. Stop sharing photos from that morning to shamelessly mislead the nation. Maybe you knew in advance of the attack but people of India got to know in the evening. Try a better stunt next time, where sacrifice of soldiers isn’t involved. https://t.co/qiAhUKrNdg — BJP (@BJP4India) February 22, 2019
Congress social media in-charge Divya Spandana was quick to ask BJP make up its own mind and cited discrepancies in the weather of that morning and the claim that the photos were from that time. "This is what happens when you lie, you can’t keep track of it. Make up your mind BJP was there bad weather or not? Was he informed or not? 'Cos if this is morning then you're caught lying with your pants down," she tweeted. She also wrote on how no national mourning was declared.
Tragic truth is whether he knew in time or not, he didn’t even declare national mourning that speaks volume of the man. Also he continued to campaign, kept the martyrs family waiting for hours. Didn’t condemn the attacks on Kashmiri’s. The irony, he went to collect a peace award!
— Divya Spandana/Ramya (@divyaspandana) February 22, 2019
The Congress' official Twitter handle too got involved and pointed the BJP to a news article.
Nice try, but the only one pulling stunts was Modiji during his photoshoot - which took place from 2:30 to 4:30pm (at this point he knew about the attacks) - & then at a rally where he didn't even bother addressing the Pulwama attack. #PhotoShootSarkar https://t.co/nfPsocUtsL https://t.co/8xE7PnAbwl
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 22, 2019
At Thursday's press meet, Surjewala had suggested that Modi's shoot was for "self propagation". He also claimed the prime minister had continued to "have tea and samosas at seven o'clock in a PWD guest house when every single Indian household didn't eat food (that day)".
On 14 February, Modi was in Uttarakhand for multiple events. News of the Pulwama attack began coming in by 3.30 pm. In the wake of the Congress accusation, a senior government official told Economic Times that an "aggrieved Prime Minister cancelled his rally in Rudrapur and held multiple review meetings in Uttarakhand" after learning of the attack.
"It was on the way from Corbett to Rudrapur around 4 pm that news of the attack first trickled in. Modi was angry about being informed late," he said.
By 6.48 pm, he had tweeted his first reaction to the attack.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2019 14:23:23 IST