With the nationalism plank driving its Lok Sabha poll campaign, the BJP on Thursday sought to corner the Opposition, saying it is reluctant to celebrate India’s win after the UN designated Masood Azhar a global terrorist as it fears it may have to pay a political price.
Senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman credited the “persistent efforts” of the Modi government for India’s “massive diplomatic victory”, with the finance minister asserting that the contrast in the position of the Congress and his party on national security is “visible”.
The UN Sanctions Committee on Wednesday designated the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist after China lifted its hold on a proposal to ban him.
At a press conference, Jaitley also rejected the Congress’ stand that it was disappointed that the UN’s decision did not make any reference to the Pulwama terror attack and Azhar’s role in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
The UN’s listing and decision are not a “bio data” of Azhar, and they don’t have to give details of his each and every activity, the finance minister asserted.
The core issue is that Azhar has been declared an international terrorist and he and his country will have to bear the consequences, Jaitley said.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed in the attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14 and the JeM had claimed responsibility for the attack.
It is the material provided by India, which included Azhar’s role in the Pulwama terror attack and the “expose” of Pakistan following the Indian air strike on a JeM camp in Balakot, that persuaded the world community to aggressively pursue the terrorist’s listing by the UN and resulted in China’s change of attitude, Jaitley said.
The Modi government succeeded after over a decade-long effort by India in this regard, he noted.
“It is a matter of pride for every Indian. Entire country is praising the government and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi.
“When the country wins, every Indian wins but what is unfortunate is that the Opposition thinks if it joins the celebration, then it will have to pay a political price. So, it says what is the big deal,” he said.
Jaitley claimed that Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist is not an election issue for the BJP, but went on to add that nationalism has always been his party’s core plank and that it has acquired “more relevance than normal” this time.
The BJP stands by nationalism and allied issues, and also by Modi’s leadership and his government’s performance, he asserted.
Jaitley said at a time when the Congress has promised scrapping the sedition law and diluting AFSPA, the contrast in the opposition party’s stand on issues of nationalism and national security against the BJP’s position is visible.
He said approach to national security is an election issue and asserted “it is a matter of pride that nationalism is an election issue” in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Attacking the Congress, Jaitley said the Manmohan Singh government did not act against terrorists after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, even as security forces were ready to target them.
The UPA government in fact released 25 terrorists as a “goodwill gesture” and one of them was later involved in the Pathankot terror attack, he said.
Taking a dig at the Congress, Jaitley said it had claimed that its government had also carried out surgical strikes across the border and mocked them as “unknown and invisible”.
The opposition party had also raised doubts after the “successful” Balakot airstrike under the Modi government, he said.
To a question about the Congress’ swipe at the BJP after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said it will be good for peace talks between the two countries if the saffron party wins, Jaitley said it is not that Khan wants a BJP victory but the world is aware of the likely result while the opposition party is not.
Sitharaman, who was with Jaitley at the press conference, attributed the success of sanctioning of JeM chief to Modi’s leadership and his government’s persistent efforts.