Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Monday rejected the opposition’s argument that elections should not be fought on national security issues, saying security and terrorism are the most important issues in the long run while all other challenges are capable of early resolution.
He also said that the biggest challenge before India is the issue of Jammu & Kashmir and terror as it concerns the nation’s sovereignty.
“India’s opposition argues that elections have to be fought on the ‘real issues’ and not on the issues of national security. It is my endeavor to argue that national security and terrorism are the most important issues which concern India in the long run. All other challenges are capable of early resolution,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post titled ‘Why Jammu and Kashmir, and a new approach to terrorism will remain a key political issue’.
The opposition parties had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of politicizing the death of over 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama and Indian Air Force’s retaliatory attack at Balakot in Pakistan for electoral gains. Several former service chiefs and military veterans have written to President Ram Nath Kovind, expressing concern over political leaders taking credit for military operations to pursue political agenda.
Giving reasons for making national security and terrorism subject matters of electoral debate, Jaitley said, “it relates to the country’s sovereignty, integrity and security”. “Terror supported from across the border can’t be fought either with velvet gloves or a policy of appeasement,” he said, adding the two regional parties (PDP and NC) have played a disappointing role, and the current leadership of the opposition parties has hardly a roadmap except to tread on the path to disaster.
This challenge, Jaitley added, can be resolved with a fresh approach, which is uncompromising on terror, and determination to enforce the rule of law with a commitment to total integration. He further said that during the course of the election campaign, whenever issues relating to the terror attack at Pulwama and the air strikes at Balakot are raised, India’s opposition is on the back-foot. “A strong Government and a leader with clarity alone are capable of resolving the Kashmir issue. This will necessarily require reversal of the historical blunders of the past,” the minister said.