LoC killings: BJP targets Antony for ‘clean chit’ to Pakistan army

The BJP also moved privilege motions against Antony in both the houses.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: August 7, 2013 10:17 pm

The political storm over Defence Minister A K Antony’s statement on the LoC attack paralysed parliament on Wednesday with an aggressive opposition accusing him of giving a “clean chit” to the Pakistan Army and demanding an apology.

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Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were repeatedly adjourned,before being adjourned for the day without transacting any substantive business.

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Antony,who has been under fire since yesterday for saying that “terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms” had carried out the attack in which five Indian soldiers were killed,maintained in the Rajya Sabha that his statement was based on “whatever information” was available to him then.

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He said he would get back to the House if he got more details about the incident in Poonch after Army Chief General Bikram Singh’s visit to Jammu. “Regarding the defence and protection of integrity of the country,the nation is one,parliament is one,” he said.

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But the BJP said Antony had given a “clean chit” to the Pakistan Army and provided it with an “escape route”. The party also said no talks should be held with Pakistan.

Speaking to the media,BJP parliamentary party chairman L K Advani said Antony’s statement “is intended only to exonerate Pakistan government and absolve it of the responsibility of killing five Indian soldiers”. He said,“I have a feeling that the government wants to continue talks with Pakistan,” adding that the nation would feel outraged if the talks were held in such a situation,describing the attack as a formal invasion.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley also said there should be no talks between India and Pakistan. “There is no atmosphere for talks…You cannot have attack and talks at the same time,” he said.

In the Lok Sabha,Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the defence ministry had stated that “the ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with soldiers of Pak Army.” However,she added,Antony had blamed “terrorists and persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms”. She said the Army had held the Pakistan Army responsible,but Antony had given it a “clean chit”. Terming it as a serious issue,she asked the Prime Minister or the Defence Minister to give an explanation.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,who was present in the Lok Sabha,remained silent,Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Congress spokespersons defended Antony.

The BJP also moved privilege motions against Antony in both the houses.

In the Rajya Sabha,BJP members,including deputy leader Ravi Shankar Prasad and former party chief Venkaiah Naidu,went to the well of the house and raised slogans against Pakistan. Charging Antony with an attempt to demoralise the Army,Naidu said,“The minister should offer an apology… What compelled the government to supersede an earlier statement?” He sought to know if it had “something to do with the Prime Minister’s proposed visit to the United Nations and hold talks with Pakistan there.”

Stating that “the second statement gives an escape route to Pakistan”,Naidu said,“It’s not a Congress or BJP issue. It is a national issue. Two contradictory statements.”

When deputy chairman P J Kurien intervened to say Antony had already made a statement,Naidu asked him “not to get involved”. He said the chair should come to the rescue of the members and the country,not the minister.

Speaking to the media later,Kamal Nath said,“There is no question of the defence minister misleading… He made a statement of facts,facts which were available at the time when he made the statement…” Asked about the privilege notice,he said it will considered by the Speaker.

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