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Surgical strikes: How politicians turned a matter of national security into a mud-slinging match

It was pretty surprising when Opposition parties praised the Narendra Modi government and the Indian Army immediately after the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh informed the media about the surgical strikes which were conducted against terror launch pads across the LoC in PoK.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

You rarely get to witness a day in Indian politics when the Opposition stands united with the government. After parties like Congress, AAP, JD(U) praised the central government and armed forces, we asked ourselves: Could it be that political parties in India had finally decided not to play petty politics over an issue? Could something like that actually be possible?

No, as it turns out. Merely days after news about the surgical strikes were made public, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a video message on Monday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "unmask Pakistan's false propaganda".

"Since these surgical strikes took place, Pakistan has become very agitated. Pakistan has now resorted to dirty politics," he had said. "For the last two or three days, we have seen that Pakistan has been taking foreign journalists to the border (with India). It has been trying to convince them that the surgical strikes did not take place."

"I appeal to the prime minister: Unmask Pakistan's false propaganda like the way you (Modi) and the army taught Pakistan a lesson on the ground," Kejriwal had said. "Unmask Pakistan's baseless attempt to damage the reputation of India on the global forum."

With enough anti-Pakistan remarks, the Delhi CM must have hoped that the focus would be on exactly that: anti-Pakistan sentiment. But since the only way the Modi government can "unmask" Pakistan's claims is by providing evidence that the surgical strikes did take place, the ruling party lashed out at Kejriwal and claimed that he was making statements against the Indian Army for scoring political points.

Meanwhile, Congress leader and former Home Minister P Chidambaram said such surgical strikes had taken place under the UPA regime too and then asked the Modi government to provide proof for the surgical strikes.

A dramatic Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP leader and Union minister, in a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday, hit out at Kejriwal and Congress. "Somewhere or the other, is there a question being raised on the probes conducted by the Indian army?" Prasad said. "A chief minister of India is getting influenced by Pakistan's false propaganda and is asking for proof for the surgical strikes," he said.

"Chidambaram has earlier been the home and finance minister of the country. But what is the message he is sending? Is he also joining the bandwagon of creating doubts and seeking to belittle our armed forces?" Prasad said.

As if this was not enough politics, yet another Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had this to say on Twitter:

"There were three surgical strikes during Congress regime, but we never politicised it. The DGMO never held a press conference to declare it. So, who told the DGMO to convene a press conference in the post-Uri scenario?" Nirupam asked.

"The government has to provide some sort of evidence without compromising national security," he said.

Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma had also said that "the government must expose Pakistan's denial. It has all the tools and instruments to do so."

More importantly, the statements by the Congress leaders came despite Rahul Gandhi having praised PM Modi for the surgical strikes.

On the other hand, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia came to the defence of his CM and said that the AAP convener never uttered the word "saboot" (proof), but was asking Modi to fight the propaganda unleashed by the international media with Pakistan questioning the authenticity of the operations.

Apart from these intense statements, more drama came from other politicians in the country.

But it was not just the Opposition parties which played petty politics over this issue.

For example, the celebrations in Varanasi over the surgical strikes took a weird turn when this happened:

Moreover, BJP MLA Rameshwar Sharma decided that it was appropriate to make a cheap comment about the wedding night of the parents of Kejriwal and Nirupam.

Perhaps politicians, both from the Opposition and the ruling party, need to realise that mud-slinging and bickering at a time when the atmosphere is already tense in the country will only make Pakistan and its claims look stronger.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Oct 05, 2016 15:20 PM

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