BJP, Congress at loggerheads over IAF air strike

New Delhi: Following Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa’s remark on air strikes, BJP and Congress have once again locked horns on the issue, with the former accusing the latter of politicising the issue and the Congress seeking the source of statements being made by BJP leaders with regards to the number of casualties.

Addressing the media here on Monday, Dhanoa had said fighter planes had hit the target given to them, adding that he cannot give the number of casualties suffered as it is for the government to do.

Soon after this statement, Congress leaders started raising questions over the source of BJP president Amit Shah’s claim of 250 terrorists having been killed in the Air Strikes in Balakot.

Speaking to ANI, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said BJP leaders should share the information that they have.

“We should not politicise the air strike. As Rahul Gandhi said, for national security, we should support each and every action of our armed forces. We should stand united in these situations. But if someone is doing politics and wants to take credit for the Army’s action, this is not good. With Karnataka state president’s statement, BJP is exposed now. We should focus on national interest now,” Kharge said.

He also denied asking for evidence of the air strike and said, “We did not ask for any proof. We just want that BJP is making different claims, hence they should also share with others whatever information they have.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan told ANI that they are not questioning the armed forces but only want to know the source of claims being made by BJP leaders, including its president Amit Shah.

“Air Chief BS Dhanoa is right in what he says and we never question the integrity of our security forces.

The Indian Air Force has definitely hit the target but the question is what the inputs they received were.

Was that from an active intelligence report in which the terrorists were camping there. The report is in 2005, they evacuated the place. The question is where the BJP president got the figure of 250, they haven’t completed the counting of demonetisation note,” Singh said.

Congress leader RPN Singh also raised questions over the statements being made by BJP leaders and demanded an apology from the Prime Minister.

Singh said, “I think the prime minister should apologise to the Air Force. He is questioning the valiant efforts, the bravery of our Air Force pilot. Air Chief BS Dhanoa said that MIG-Bison was fitted with the latest technology and capable enough to challenge any latest fighter jets. It is not Congress but BJP which is politicising the air strike. We have BJP state president walking in army fatigues. BJP chief Amit Shah is speaking about 250 dead. From where is he getting such a figure?”

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury also quoted Air Chief Dhanoa’s remarks and said the BJP chief having secret information amounts to a breach of national security.

“Air Force has not counted, the government is speaking in multiple voices, but the BJP Party President is dishing out numbers. If he has access to secret information which even IAF Chief does not have, it’s a breach of national security. If not, he is lying,” said Yechury.

BJP leaders, on the other hand, cited Dhanoa’s statement to question Congress about its loyalties.

BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said, “Now air chief is saying that they fixed a target and destroyed it.

Pakistan is saying some other thing. Now it is for Congress to decide whether they are with Pakistan or Indian armed forces.”

BJP Vice-president Shyam Jaju also endorsed the remarks made by IAF chief and said, “We have given a message to the world that we are peaceful country but won’t leave anyone who threatens us. The opposition leaders are trying to demoralise our armed forces.”