The BJP on Sunday spurned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's call for restraint and stuck to its stand of unfurling the Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Republic Day. It accused both the Central and Jammu and Kashmir governments of “surrendering” to separatist forces.
In a statement on Saturday, Dr. Singh called for “maximum restraint in a sensitive State like Jammu and Kashmir” and extended the Centre's “support” to the State government's endeavours for “punctilious adherence” during the Republic Day celebrations.
Without referring to the BJP, Dr. Singh said: “It is not an occasion to score political points, to embarrass State and local administrations, to create situations that could lead to entirely avoidable problems, or to promote divisive agenda.”
He hoped that political parties would heed to his call and “will do nothing that will disturb peace and harmony, or detract in any way from the dignity of Republic Day.”
Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani sharply reacted to Dr. Singh's statement and the crackdown on the party workers in Srinagar to foil the bid of the “tiranga yatra” of the BJP's youth wing to furl the Tricolour in Srinagar.
The yatra members “are not trying to score a political point.” They “are challenging the separatists” whereas “the State is surrendering to them,” he said.
Lashing out at the prohibitory orders in Srinagar, he said the “curbs should be targeted towards those who have declared that they will not let the Tricolour be unfurled at the Lal Chowk and certainly not against those who were repeatedly asserting that they will peacefully and respectfully unfurl the Flag in Srinagar.”
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, described as undemocratic the arrest of some BJP members in Srinagar on Saturday and the sealing of Jammu and Kashmir borders to prevent the entry of the yatra.
Mr. Jaitley described the crackdown as a panic reaction. Nothing would stop the youth from 11 States from hoisting the country's flag in Srinagar.
The UPA government did not take any action against the separatists who had come over to Delhi and spoke in favour of division of a particular State and sedition just a few months ago, he said.
Mr. Jaitley described as regrettable Dr. Singh's statement. He wondered how Dr. Singh “can think that hoisting the national flag will divide the nation?”
He sought an explanation from Dr. Singh and the Congress why action was taken only against patriots and not against separatists.
We will succeed, says Javadekar
Bangalore Special Correspondent reports:
At a press conference in Bangalore on Sunday, BJP national spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said the party would succeed in its endeavour to hoist the flag in Srinagar. “You [the UPA government] can suppress our agitation. But you cannot prevent us from hoisting the national flag. We know how to reach Srinagar even if you continue to suppress us.”