Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to one crore BJP workers on Thursday came under fire from the Opposition, who accused him of pursuing a political agenda at a time when clouds of war were hovering over the nation.
The Congress, BSP, SP, Trinamool Congress, National Conference and AAP slammed Modi for carrying on with his ‘Mera Booth Sabse Majboot’ programme, where he addresses BJP workers across the country through video conferencing.
“When the nation wants its leadership to speak to it, the prime minister chose to address the booth workers of the BJP rather than address the nation,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Voicing concern over the capture of IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the Congress had also planned a nation-wide campaign to demand for his safe return.
However, the instructions issued to state and district units of the party to hold candlelight vigil were hastily revoked as word got around of the pilot’s impending release.
The Congress sought to project a more humane face in the face of adversity by postponing the meeting of its Working Committee, scheduled for Thursday in Ahmedabad followed by a rally to be addressed by Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other leaders.
The Opposition was taken by surprise as Modi went the whole hog seeking to drive political mileage out of air strikes carried out by the IAF on terror targets inside Pakistan.
However, they saw an opportunity to corner Modi when the Pakistan Air Force retaliated and later captured an IAF pilot.
While slamming Modi for the “blatant politicisation” of the action of the armed forces, the Opposition tried to build up a campaign on the theme ‘Bring Back Abhinandan’, which turned into ‘Welcome Home Abhinandan’ soon after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan annouced that he would return to India on Friday.
The Congress also announced that Rahul will address two election rallies in Dhule and Mumbai on Friday as scheduled. On Saturday, the Congress President will be in Ranchi for a public meeting.
BSP supremo Mayawati termed Modi’s plans “laughable” and aimed at playing with the emotions of the nation.
“At a time when war clouds are hovering and the nation is in dire need of leadership, Prime Minister Modi, instead of focussing on national security, is worried about his party,” she said.
“His address to the BJP booth workers is not only laughable but also playing with the emotions of the nation,” Mayawati said.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury asked the BJP to introspect on the statement of 21 Opposition parties, who had asked the ruling party to refrain from politicising the Pulwama attack and its aftermath.