BJP, Congress spar over fallout of Yeddyurappa’s claim on IAF strikes

Bengaluru: Riding on the euphoria of the IAF’s strike on terror camps in Pakistan, an upbeat BJP defended its Karnataka unit president B.S. Yeddyurappa’s claim that the party would reap electoral dividends from it in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls.

“The IAF air strike in Pakistan has led to a sense of nationalism. An upsurge in nationalism strengthens Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yeddyurappa’s views only meant that,” BJP spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS here.

Pouncing on Yeddyurappa for trying to take political mileage out of the IAF strike, the Congress asserted that his claim of benefit would boomerang on the BJP’s prospects in the general election, due in April-May.

“Yeddyurappa’s attempt to politicise the IAF strike will boomerang on the BJP’s prospects as his remarks are petty and insulting to the armed forces,” Congress state unit spokesman K.E. Radhakrishnan told IANS.

Though Yeddyurappa clarified that his remarks were misinterpreted by a section of media when translated into English from Kannada, the BJP has gone on a damage control exercise, with its official saying the party is confident of winning 17 seats and securing 5 more out of 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in the southern state on the NDA’s achievements.

“Yeddyurappa’s remarks that the BJP will win 22 seats was misinterpreted by a section of the media. It is also wrong to say his remarks will hurt our prospects of winning majority seats in the state,” Madhusudhan asserted.

In the 2014 general election, the BJP won 17 seats, Congress 9 and JD-S 2 in Karnataka.

The Congress spokesman, however, said the silence of the BJP leadership on Yeddyurappa’s remarks indicated it stood by him and endorsed his claim that the party would benefit electorally from the IAF strike.

“After failing to topple our coalition government in the state, Yeddyurappa is trying to please Modi by saying the BJP would benefit from the air strikes. His claim will be counter-productive as the people will not tolerate mixing politics with national security or the valour of armed forces,” Radhakrishna added.

Unfazed by the Congress attack, Yeddyurappa on Friday told the state’s party leaders and cadres here that they have to ensure the BJP won the maximum seats in every state to cross the 300-mark in the Lok Sabha polls.

“We have to win all the 28 seats in Karnataka. This is the responsibility we have to ensure the BJP returns to power with a clear majority and Modi will be the Prime Minister again,” Yeddyurappa said.

As in the case of an audiotape ahead of the legislature’s budget session from February 6-15, in which Yeddyurappa was heard allegedly luring a JD-S legislator to join the BJP, the party has been embarrassed by his “off-the-cuff” remarks on the IAF strikes in Pakistan to defend him.

Yeddyurappa’s impromptu remarks at Davangere in the state’s northwest region, on February 27 a day after the air strikes sparked a Twitter war between the BJP and the coalition allies, with JD-S Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Congress state unit president Dinesh Gundu Rao and Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah lashing out at the former for trying to politicise a military response to terror attacks.

Answering reporters, Yeddyurappa said the situation was favourable for the BJP, as the IAF strikes would help his party win 22 of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Gundu Rao, however, wondered if winning elections was the priority for the BJP and not the country’s security. He also asked Yeddyurappa to clarify if going to war was an electoral strategy of the BJP.

Yeddyurappa’s tweet read: “The IAF fighters entered Pakistan on Tuesday and destroyed three terrorist camps, which created a pro-Modi wave across the country. The effect of this will be seen in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.”

Joining the Twitter war, Kumaraswamy said when the entire nation was united in supporting the Centre and the armed forces to fight terrorism, Yeddyurappa was busy calculating how many extra Lok Sabha seats the terror attack and war against Pakistan could bring to his party.

Echoing Rao and Kumaraswamy, Siddaramaiah said it was shocking and disgusting to understand #BJPsPlot4Vote.

Refuting the remarks of the coalition allies, Yeddyurappa said his statement was misinterpreted.

“I have the highest regard for our armed forces. I salute the bravery of our men in fighting for the country’s safety. To me the nation comes first and then the party,” Yeddyurappa later tweeted.