BJP, Congress spar over PM Modi’s itinerary on day of Pulwama attack

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “Prime Time Minister”, alleging that he was busy in a photo session even three hours after news of the Pulwama terror attack broke.

Gandhi tweeted Modi’s photos to back his claim, though the Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the images posted by the opposition leader were taken in the morning of February 14, hours before a suicide bomber attacked a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in the afternoon and killed 40 personnel.

“A pained nation and the families of the martyrs were going through a sea of emotion, while the PM was smiling at a photo shoot on a river,” Gandhi tweeted in Hindi, referring to Modi’s photo session at a lake in Uttarakhand.

The BJP was quick to reply. “Rahul Ji, India is tired of your fake news. Stop sharing photos from that morning to shamelessly mislead the nation. Maybe you knew in advance of the attack, but people of India got to know in the evening. Try a better stunt next time, where sacrifice of soldiers isn’t involved,” the party posted on Twitter.

Continuing with its broadside against the government, Gandhi’s party stressed that the Prime Minister must answer what he was doing in the first two hours after the deadliest attack on security forces in the Kashmir Valley. The Congress also alleged that Modi was either “completely oblivious” to the incident or “insensitive”.

Citing DD News footage, the opposition party said the PM addressed a rally in Uttarakhand at 5:10pm over phone. At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “So, the Pulwama attack takes place at 03:10 pm. The Prime Minister addresses a rally at 05:10 pm and to the best of our knowledge, the Prime Minister does not mention a word about the Pulwama attack.”

He also accused the government of trying to “package high-octane jingoism to subterfuge national security failures” in the wake of the terror strike.

Hitting back at the Congress, the BJP said some political parties were “not standing with the country” for petty politics when nations across the world backed India after the Pulwama attack.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra dismissed as lies the Congress’s claim that Modi was “completely oblivious” to the strike or “insensitive” as he continued with his prior engagements.

On Thursday, too, the Congress cited media reports to allege that Modi continued shooting for a film at Corbett on February 14 for “self propagation”. The BJP dubbed the allegations as “shameful” and rejected the charges, saying the opposition party exposed its “true colours” after keeping a “facade” of standing with security forces and the government in the immediate aftermath the terror strike.

Separately, at an event in Tamil Nadu, BJP president Amit Shah Friday asserted the blood shed by Indian soldiers in terror will not go in vain. Addressing party workers, Shah also said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had a “zero tolerance towards terrorism”.

First Published: Feb 22, 2019 22:56 IST

Updated: February 22, 2019 — 11:26 pm