Digvijaya Singh controversy: Why did Rahul Gandhi take so long to publicly declare his respect for the armed forces, the BJP asked on Tuesday, slamming the former Congress chief for dismissing Digvijaya Singh's controversial comments on surgical strikes as a "personal opinion". It also asked Congress to make its stand clear on the issues of terrorism and national security.
As Gandhi snubbed his party colleague Singh for raising questions on surgical strikes and the BJP seized the row to corner the opposition party, BJP leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress has a habit of projecting uncomfortable views of its leaders as their personal views and asked if there is any limit to such opinion.
"No respect for defence"?
Noting that Singh has been walking with Gandhi since the beginning of the yatra, Prasad said the former Congress president has been "unable to teach him to respect armed forces, that too in Jammu and Kashmir. It's a matter of big shame."
"The question is what is the standard of these leaders when it comes to respecting our armed forces? Indians do not seek proof of their heroics but salute them," Prasad told reporters, noting that Singh has a history of taking controversial stands, be it visiting families of suspected terrorists killed in the Batla House encounter or praising radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik.
Attacking Gandhi for his "vacillating" stand on armed forces, he cited some of his previous remarks, including a recent comment in Dausa during the Bharat Jodo Yatra questioning the government's handling of the border standoff with China and claim that the Chinese were "beating up" Indian soldiers.
"Khoon ki dalali"
He had used the "khoon ki dalali" barb after the 2016 surgical strikes to attack the Modi government and gone to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to extend moral support to "tukde tukde gang", Prasad told reporters.
Why it took him so many years to say publicly that he respects the armed forces, the BJP leader asked. He should have also said "sorry" for what he had said earlier, Prasad added.
He also took a dig at Congress leader Jairam Ramesh for physically preventing a journalist from asking questions to Singh on his statement about the surgical strikes and the 2019 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Gandhi on Tuesday said he and the Congress do not agree with Singh's comments on surgical strikes and that the armed forces do not need to give any proof. It is ridiculous, he said on the remarks.
"I don't agree with the statement of Digvijaya Singh. It is crystal clear that we disagree with it. It is the official position of the Congress," Gandhi told reporters in Jammu and Kashmir.
When asked about Gandhi's remarks on Article 370, Prasad it is history now and the people of Jammu and Kashmir are enjoying the freedom which had eluded them for quite a long.
?BJP president Ravinder Raina sought an apology from Rahul Gandhi
Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina sought an apology from Rahul Gandhi for Singh's controversial remarks. "Rahul Gandhi should apologise for the remarks of his party leader," Raina told reporters in Jammu. He said the way Singh questioned the valour and commitment of brave army and IAF personnel is unfortunate.
"Singh...has insulted armed forces. It cannot be tolerated... Armed forces have bravely entered PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) and conducted surgical strikes on terrorist camps. The entire country saluted the valour of troops of this nation, but Congress leaders are demanding proof from them," he said, adding this shows the mentality of Congress leaders.
"It has become customary for Congress to speak against the interests of the nation," he charged. He also accused the Congress of dividing the country and "gifting a big chunk of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and China".
Targeting Rahul Gandhi, the Jammu and Kashmir BJP leader said the former Congress chief claims he is trying to understand the pain of Jammu and Kashmir, but he must answer why the Congress never gave rights to Gujjars, Bakkarwals and women. Raina said the Congress never talked to nationalists but only with terrorists like Yasin Malik. "It has remained a supporter and sympathiser of terrorists," he alleged.
(With inputs from PTI)