Describing the Pulwama terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir as an “attack on India’s soul”, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Friday that his party and the entire Opposition fully supported the government and security forces “in its action” and that terrorism cannot divide the country.
Concluding that it should not be seen as indulging in political one-upmanship soon after the terror attack Thursday in Pulwama, which killed 40 CRPF personnel, Gandhi said the Congress will not get into “any conversation other than the fact that our most beloved people have been killed, their families need us and we are going to stand with them”.
Gandhi chaired a high-level party meeting in the morning, attended among others by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Union Ministers A K Antony and Anand Sharma to decide the party’s response to the terror strike and the evolving situation.
The unanimous view among the leaders, sources said, was that the party should not display characteristic opposition aggression now, particularly with Lok Sabha elections around the corner.
“We decided that at this juncture, we should be calm…there are 365 days to talk about other things. When it comes to militancy, Pakistan, enemy…we should not fight amongst ourselves…as it will help Pakistan and other people,” said a Congress leader.
Gandhi then addressed a press conference with Manmohan Singh, Azad and Antony and declared that “we will support the government in its actions.” He said no force can destroy or divide the country.
“I want to make it very clear that the aim of terrorism is to divide this country and we are not going to be divided for one second. No matter how hard people try, this country and the entire opposition are going to stand together, we are going to stand with our jawans and we are going to stand with the government,” said Gandhi
Gandhi said “this type of violence” done against “the most valuable Indians” is “absolutely disgusting.”
“The people who did it, they should get to know they cannot harm the country and that the country will not forget this,” he said.
Arguing that “we shall never compromise with terrorist forces,” Manmohan Singh said that “whatever the country requires, we will work together as one united nation to deal with this menace of terrorism. Terrorism is a scourge. It is something with which we can never compromise and as the Congress president said, today is not a day to raise contentious issues”.
Not all in the party adhered to it though. Senior party leader Digvijaya Singh in a series of tweets spoke about intelligence failure and asked whether the government would order a probe and was it not the responsibility of the National Security Advisor.
“Did the Jaish-e-Mohammad gave a threat two days ago that it would carry out a suicide bombing. What were the state and central governments doing if it had given (such a threat)…Will Modiji shed some light on this,” he said.
Gandhi, however, refused to get drawn into any controversy. Asked about the withdrawal of Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan, he said, “This is a time of mourning, this is a time of sadness and this is a time of respect. We are fully supporting the Government of India and our security forces. We are not going to get into any conversation other than the fact that our most beloved people have been killed.”