Though forced on to the back foot by the Pune blast — coming as it did just a day after the India-initiated Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan were fixed — the Congress on Sunday chose not to rise to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s bait and mount pressure on the government to walk away from the course of dialogue.
“It would be extremely imprudent, unwise and irresponsible for anybody to second guess the investigations, jump the gun and arrive at predetermined assumptions. Let the investigations fructify. And, if any inferences need to be drawn, we are confident that the government will factor that in,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said.
As for the BJP’s demand that the government call off the proposed talks with Pakistan in view of the blast, another Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed criticised the attempt by some political parties to draw political mileage from the unfortunate incident.
While no Congress leader was willing to go on record on this, part of the cautious response to the blast is the fact that Pune has been the epicentre of Hindu militancy. “Don’t forget that the Malegaon blasts also have a link with Pune,” said one Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
Within the Congress senior leadership, there is a section which believes that the hard line position taken by the government after the 26/11 attacks paid rich dividends politically. So, the response to India’s latest bid to engage with Pakistan has been measured with the Congress maintaining that the government was best poised to take a decision on such matters.
In a very calibrated reaction to New Delhi’s offer to Islamabad to commence dialogue, the Congress said last week: “The government in its wisdom has made a determination based upon inputs that there is a need to commence dialogue with Pakistan. It would be appropriate to allow the process to go forward.”
As to whether the Congress supported the talks since not much had changed since the Mumbai terror attacks, it was pointed out that for the first time Pakistan had acknowledged the use of its territory for attacks on India.