Accusing Defence Minister A.K. Antony of making a “false” statement on Poonch killings, the BJP leader L.K. Advani on Wednesday said he should apologise as his remarks are intended to “exonerate” Pakistan as government wants to continue talks.
“I hold that what the ‘raksha mantri’ has said in the House is intended only to exonerate Pakistan government and absolve it of the responsibility of killing five Indian soldiers,” Mr. Advani told reporters in the Parliament House.
Asked why the Defence Minister would make a contradictory statement, the BJP leader said, “I have a feeling that the government wants to continue talks with Pakistan.”
He claimed that if the talks would continue in a situation in which Pakistan army is named for the killings, the nation would feel outraged.
Terming this a “formal invasion” as the Pakistan army personnel had entered “our borders and killed Indian soldiers”, Mr. Advani said he has suggested to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath that the statements of Antony and the Defence Ministry -- which blames Pakistan army and terrorists for the attacks -- should be reconciled.
“The Defence Minister himself should tell the House that what the truth is and apologise that what he said is false,” the BJP Parliamentary Party Chief said.
In reply to a question on whether Prime Minister Singh should hold talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the forthcoming U.N. summit, Mr. Advani said, “This is no time for such talks.”
The BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has moved a Privilege notice against Antony for misleading the House. The Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar announced in the Lok Sabha that she has received the notice and would take appropriate action.
Mr. Advani faulted Mr. Antony’s statement on two grounds.
Reading from the statements issued by the Defence Minister and the one issued by the Defence Ministry, he said the latter has clearly held the Pakistan government and its army responsible.
“The minister has said 20 heavily armed men ambushed the Indian soldiers on our side of the LoC in the Poonch sector while the Defence Ministry said they were ambushed close to the border,” Mr. Advani said.
He charged that Mr. Antony has also contradicted the defence ministry when he said “20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniforms” had killed the Indian soldiers while his ministry had said a Border Action Team of Pakistan army had killed them.
Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told Mr. Nath that there is difference in the two statements and the Defence Minister has given a “clean chit to Pakistan”.
Mr. Advani said the army version also points out that the action of the Pakistani forces is a “likely consequence of frustrations of terrorist Tanzeems (groups) and Pakistan army due to elimination of 19 hardcore terrorists near LoC and in Kashmir recently”. Seventeen infiltration bids were also foiled this year.
The senior leader said BJP wants a clarification from Mr. Antony on the issue.
The Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said there should be no talks between India and Pakistan.
“There is no atmosphere for talks. You (government) are enthusiastic about the talks, but people think otherwise. You cannot have attacks and talks at the same time,” he said.