Twenty-one parties pay homage to slain 40 CRPF personnel and express concern over safety of pilot reportedly in the custody of the Pakistan Army
Opposition parties slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government for “blatant politicisation” of the prevailing security situation and deaths of armed personnel, signalling that they would no longer restrain themselves from questioning the Centre.
Twenty-one Opposition parties met for over three hours and signed a joint memorandum. Congress president Rahul Gandhi read out the statement to reporters.
“The meeting of 21 parties expressed their deep anguish over the blatant politicisation of the sacrifices made by our armed forces by leader of the ruling party. National security must transcend narrow political considerations,” the Opposition joint memorandum said.
The parties observed that the Prime Minister “regrettably” had not convened an all-party meeting as is the norm.
The memorandum mourned the death of 40 CRPF jawans in Pulwama and hailed the Indian Air Force for the cross-border strikes. They also expressed “deep concern” for the Indian Air Force pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistan.
The Opposition parties deliberated on the question of how to react to the air strikes and retaliation from Pakistan. Senior Congress functionaries said that party president Rahul Gandhi, while speaking at the meeting, emphasised that this was not the time for a political slug fest.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said right now it was time to stand by the security forces but at the same time if Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to take credit for the Indian Air Force’s action against a Jaish terror camp in Balakot, then he should also be held accountable for the lapses in Pulwama.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who was one of the first speakers, at the 21-party meet, said that the Opposition should build pressure on the government to ensure that it sticks to its earlier stand that the air strikes were an anti-terror operation and should not escalate the situation any further.
He reportedly also pointed out that even when the entire Opposition was standing with the government it was BJP president Amit Shah who sought to draw political dividends from the situation.
According to sources, Trinamool Congress president and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Opposition should take an aggressive stand and the BJP should be held accountable. She said that in the joint memorandum Prime Minister Modi and the BJP should be clearly mentioned. She said that the Opposition should not concede space to the BJP and it was time to ask questions.
“They have shut down airports cancelled the flights. What are they doing? We need to ask them questions,” Ms. Banerjee reportedly said.
Sources said Jan Loktantrik Party chief Sharad Yadav, without blaming the Congress for keeping mum after the Pulwama attack, said that only three politicians, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and Sitaram Yechury, had asked the government relevant questions.