Home / Politics / Policy /  Surgical strikes snowball into political controversy as opposition targets NDA

New Delhi: After the Indian army conducted surgical strikes on terrorist camps located inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), politics has taken over the issue as several political leaders are now demanding that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) should come out with ‘proof’ of the operation. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in response has sharply reacted saying such political allegations can affect the morale of the armed forces.

The controversy was kicked off after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded that video footage of the surgical strikes to counter the claims made by Pakistan. On Monday, Kejriwal in a video message urged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear the air on the false propaganda that is being spread by Pakistan.

“Since the surgical strikes have happened, Pakistan has stooped to the level of conducting dirty politics. They are trying to take international reporters to the border and saying that no strike has happened. My blood boiled after seeing this footage. I appeal to the PM that like the PM and the army has shown Pakistan on ground, they should also unveil the false propaganda that is being spread by Pakistan," Kejriwal said in the video message.

BJP’s senior leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad responding sharply to the political reactions. “I want to ask Arvind Kejriwal whether he believes in the extraordinary valour of our soldiers or not in conducting surgical strike? If yes, then why is Arvind Kejriwal getting influenced by the false propaganda of Pakistan?" Prasad said in a press conference.

Following BJP’s comments, Kejriwal clarified on Tuesday and told reporters: “I said that Pakistan is conducting false propaganda. We all know that the surgical strikes happened. In all the foreign publications it is being said that they didn’t happen. We are with the PM on this. I am disappointed that Ravi Shankar is saying that we are making this into a political issue. Why is the BJP so scared? We together need to give a reply to Pakistan’s propaganda. All of us together beyond party lines need to strengthen the hands of the Prime Minister."

On Tuesday morning, Sanjay Nirupam, Congress’s senior leader from Maharashtra and also the chief of party’s Mumbai unit, also drew sharp criticism after he likened the strikes to a ‘fake’ one. “Every Indian wants Surgical Strikes Against Pak (Pakistan) but not a fake one to extract just political benefit by BJP. Politics over national interest," Nirupam wrote on his unverified Twitter account.

Later in the day he held a press conference in Mumbai and said that until the government clarifies questions being put such questions will continue. “Till questions over surgical strike are raised and until Indian government and the Prime Minister do not give proper response, such questions will continue. Until now when surgical strikes happened, DGMO never held any press conference. Who were those people who wanted the DGMO to brief the media and the next day BJP put up the banners, this also needs to be investigated," he told reporters.

“Action must be taken against Pakistan but we have a problem with the politicization over it. Whether the strike happened or not has to be clarified by the Indian government. A small country like Pakistan has been raising questions, our work is getting affected and so the government needs to respond," he said adding that the government was spreading a ‘propaganda’ and the ruling BJP has been harping about it.

In an interview telecasted by news channel CNN NEWS18 on Tuesday, former home minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram said it was upto the government to take a call on whether a video footage should be released or not.

“That is a call the government has to take. Such cross-border pre-emptive actions have been taken in the past. At least one has been confirmed by then chief of army staff, General Bikram Singh in Jaunary 2013. There have been others but I don’t want to go into the details. Having taken political ownership and having publicized it so much, it is only to be expected that people will demand that the videos be released. So I am sure the government has thought through of taking political ownership of a purely military action…Let the government respond into the demand of releasing videos. It was their call and they must take the next call also," he said in the interview to CNN NEWS18.

“We want to ask P. Chidambaram is he also part of the bandwagon which doubts the capacity of our soldiers in conducting surgical strike," Prasad said in response.

A person however familiar with the development said that it was highly unlikely that the government would accede to opposition demands and release video footage.

“The army and the ministry of external affairs had a joint press event on this subject. There is no question that any video evidence will satisfy every one. There is no way video footage will convince all quarters," the person said.

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