The Congress on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain what he was doing in the initial two hours after the Pulwama terror attack on February 14. He addressed a rally around 5 pm, nearly two hours after the attack, the party maintained, but did not mention the attack or pay “tributes to our brave soldiers”.
The opposition party also alleged that the government is trying to package “high-octane jingoism” to subterfuge its “national security failures”.
The BJP rubbished the allegation and accused “some political parties” of “not standing with the country” for petty politics even as other nations have backed India.
Addressing the media, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also slammed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and some other Opposition leaders, claiming that they have spoken on the same lines as Pakistan has by questioning the timing of the attack. Referring to the UN Security Council’s condemnation of the attack, and naming of Jaish-e-Mohammad by the global body to underscore the Modi government’s efforts to isolate Pakistan, Patra said, according to PTI, “On one hand all countries are standing with India…humanity is standing with us, (but) some political parties for their petty politics are not standing with the country.”
Earlier in the day, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet in Hindi, called Modi a “prime time minister” and said he continued a “photo shoot…with a smile” even three hours after the terror attack left 40 CRPF personnel. The BJP countered with a tweet: “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.”
Hitting back at the government, which on Thursday had accused the Congress of speaking like Pakistan, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told the media, “Asking hard questions and expressing solidarity with the nation in an hour of national tragedy are not mutually exclusive.”
Releasing a Doordarshan news video clip of Modi addressing a rally via phone on February 14, Tewari said, “The ticker (on the channel) says 5.10 pm — when the Prime Minister started speaking. The attack took place at 3.10 pm…. To the best of our knowledge, the Prime Minister did not mention a word about the Pulwama attack (in his speech)… there were people shouting slogans…(at rally). If the Prime Minister would have spoken about the attack… he would have paid tributes to our brave soldiers; he would have at least asked for a two-minute silence. None of that happened.”
Tewari said, “It raises two questions: the Prime Minister was aware that the attack had taken place and continued with his photo shoot… there can be no greater insensitivity than this. Then, at 5.10 pm, he deliberately chooses not to mention a word about the Pulwama attack.
“The second scenario is far more frightening… a cause of concern. Was it that between 3.10 pm and 5.10 pm, the Prime Minister of India was unaware that a terror attack had taken place in Pulwama?” Tewari asked.
He said, “If the Prime Minister was either not informed by his office, or the Prime Minister was incommunicado, what does it speak about command and control systems in the highest echelons of the Indian state?” Pointing out that India is a nuclear state, Tewari said, “If there is a breakdown in communication between the Prime Minister and his office, it has very portentous implications.”