Describing the Congress manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections as an agenda for the “balkanisation” of India, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday accused the main Opposition party of “diluting” the idea of national security.
“Even though there was a drafting committee… it appears that some of the important points have been drafted by the Congress president’s friends in the ‘tukde-tukde’ gang when it deals with Jammu & Kashmir and national security,” Jaitley told reporters.
“Some of the ideas are positively dangerous. They are an agenda for the balkanisation of India… This manifesto contains such agendas which break the nation and goes against the unity of the country,” Jaitley said.
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Referring to portions in the manifesto that promises a review of laws, rules and regulations, including those related to sedition and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Jaitley said: “We have lost a major part of J&K… But since the present leadership of the party has come into contact with jihadis and Maoists, he says Section 124A of the IPC will be repealed. Sedition will be scrapped, deshdroh will not be an offence… A party that makes such a promise does not deserve a single vote in this country.”
Referring to AFSPA, Jaitley said, “Whenever P Chidambaram, as Union Home Minister in the Congress government, advocated for dilution of this Act, the entire Congress government had opposed that… No terrorist, his supporter or family member says police came and arrested or killed the terrorist. They always say they (securitymen) came to search our house, molested our women, took away our belongings… that terrorists were tortured. The moment such allegations are levelled, all Armymen will face criminal cases in court and no sanction will be needed.”
In a separate statement, BJP president Amit Shah said the Congress has launched a “cruel attack” on national security. Shah claimed that by promising to alter the sedition law and dilute the provisions of AFSPA, Congress was “bringing a smile on the faces of terrorists and separatists”. “What is the reason that terrorists, separatists, the Pakistan Prime Minister and the Congress manifesto speak the same language?” Shah said.
Jaitley, meanwhile, also posted a blog about the manifesto, where he referred again to the promise of reviewing regulations. “It repeals Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which defines and then punishes an accused in sedition. Even for terrorists and hardcore criminals, it underlines the principles ‘bail is the rule and jail is the exception’… After having been spurned on various occasions to have a dialogue with the separatists, who want to settle for nothing other than cessation from India, it promised to have a continuous dialogue with them. It promises to dilute the presence of the Armed Forces in the Valley,” Jaitley wrote.
In his blog, he described the Congress as “the principal creator of the Jammu and Kashmir problem”, and accused it of ignoring Kashmiri Pandits.
“It created a special status; it unconstitutionally brought in Article 35A. It rigged the 1957, 1962, 1967 as also the 1988 Assembly elections. This eroded the confidence of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and now its manifesto only brings smiles on the faces of the separatists and the terrorists. A reference to ‘Kashmiri Pandits’ and their ethnic cleansing from the Valley is conspicuously absent in the manifesto,” he wrote.
Accusing the Congress of having “always been soft on terror”, Jaitley wrote: “Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi introduced TADA. Later the Congress revoked it. It revoked POTA. Now it wants to go further soft on separatism and terrorism. There is only a lip sympathy in the assault required on Maoist violence, which Dr Manmohan Singh had described as the greatest threat to India. In the recent elections, as also in the case of JNU and urban Maoists, Congress and Congressmen have always flirted with the Maoists as fellow travellers.”
He further wrote: “The manifesto compromises national security and has sham and bluff promises with little detailed understanding of the subjects involved. It is an irresponsible document which has never to be implemented since Congress looks a certain loser.”
Describing the Congress’s minimum income guarantee scheme, Nyay, as a “bluff”, Jaitley said most economists have already rubbished that idea. He said the Congress does not commit to any loan waiver but claims to have done so in several states. “If you look at the track record of Karnataka, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, a miniscule effort has not even been put. Even the PM-KISAN is on hold in Congress states,” Jaitley wrote in his blog.
BJP chief Shah also attacked the manifesto during a rally in Tamil Nadu: “I want to ask the Congress president. The soldiers fighting at borders, do you want to empower them or demoralise them?”