Govt, Opposition at war over Pak firing

Our Bureau Baramati/New Delhi | Updated on October 09, 2014 Published on October 09, 2014

ARUN JAITLEY, Defence Minister

ANAND SHARMA, Congress spokesman

Modi, accused of being ‘absentee PM’, says Congress is politicising sensitive issue

Ceasefire violations by Pakistan led to heated exchanges between the Government and the Opposition on Thursday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi blasting the Congress for “politicising” a sensitive issue.

The Congress, on its part, accused Modi of “absenteeism” and spending a disproportionate amount of time in campaigning for Assembly elections when there are serious border violations by Pakistan.

Modi responded to the accusations at an election rally in poll-bound Maharashtra while Defence Minister Arun Jaitley asserted in the Capital that Pakistan will not be able to bear the cost of its “adventurism”.

“Pakistan in these attacks has clearly been the aggressor but it must realise that our deterrence will be credible. If Pakistan persists with this adventurism, our forces will make the cost of this adventurism unaffordable,” Jaitley told reporters. “If Pakistan wants peace on the borders, it has to stop this unprovoked firing and shelling.”

Too late in the day

Ruing that a statement from the Defence Minister had come too late in the day, former Commerce Minister and Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said: “It is good that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who holds the additional charge of Defence Ministry, has finally spoken... For days there was neither Prime Minister nor Defence Minister in sight. India cannot choose to have a part-time Defence Minister.”

Attacking the PM for not taking the Opposition into confidence over the issue, Sharma asked: “Did the Prime Minister have the basic courtesy to call the leaders of the principal Opposition party of both Houses to discuss it?”

The PM, who has been campaigning in Maharashtra, responded to the allegations at an election rally in Baramati.

“Today, when bullets are being fired on the border, it is the enemy that is screaming. Our jawans have responded to the aggression with courage,” he said. “The enemy has realised that times have changed and their old habits will not be tolerated.”

He slammed the Opposition for “demoralising” the soldiers fighting on the border.

“Such an issue should not be part of a political debate...Elections will come and go, governments will come and go, but please don’t demoralise those fighting on the border by debating these things for political gains,” he said.

“People know my intentions and I need not express those in words. Where the jawans have to speak, they speak with their finger on the trigger...and they will continue to speak that way.”

Serious situation

The Congress, meanwhile, continued to question Modi’s “absence” from Delhi. “When we have such a serious situation at our borders, we should not have an absentee Prime Minister,” said Anand Sharma.

“The PM is a control freak. He wants to be everywhere...Whether by design or default, the PM has been continuously absent during crucial periods.

“He has been busy pretending to be the BJP’s chief minister face for every state whether they are held in Maharashtra or Haryana,” he added.

Published on October 09, 2014
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