Congress on Thursday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “absence” in Delhi and his engagement in state election campaigns at a time when unabated ceasefire violations continued from across the border.
The party also hit back at Defence Minister Arun Jaitley for his statement that opposition’s criticism was “ill-informed”, saying that they had not been taken into confidence over the matter and that it was the Prime Minister and his government that were acting “irresponsibly” on the issue.
Calling the Prime Minister a “control freak”, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said, “When we have such a serious issue at our borders, we should not have an absentee Prime Minister.”
“Prime Minister is a control freak. He wants to be everywhere... Whether by design or default the Prime Minister has been absent during crucial period. He has been busy pretending to be Chief Minister face for every state be it Maharashtra or Haryana,” Mr. Sharma told reporters in New Delhi.
Ruing that a statement from the defence minister too came very late, Mr. Sharma said, “It is good that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who holds the additional charge of defence ministry, has finally spoken... For days there was neither the prime minister nor the defence minister in the sight. India cannot choose to have a part time defence minister.”
Questioning as to why the country still did not have a full-time defence minister, Mr. Sharma said, “BJP’s Prime Minister has done something that “none of his predecessors have done”.
It is a matter of concern that India does not have a full time defence minister even though the new government is in place for five months.”
Attacking the Prime Minister for not taking the opposition into confidence over the issue, he asked, “Did the Prime Minister have the basic courtesy to call the leaders of principal Opposition party of both Houses to discuss it?
“The Prime Minister did not take the country or the Opposition parties into confidence whether it was the issue of China or Pakistan. It was expected that he should have shown maturity and seriousness and called leaders of principal Opposition parties and discussed the issue,” Mr. Sharma said.
Mr. Sharma further attacked the Prime Minister for having still not appointed a special representative to resolve border issues with China after the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country.
He alleged that the country has “not seen any clarity or vision” from the Prime Minister on diplomacy and foreign affairs.
The Congress spokesperson said every possible effort should be made to stop the ceasefire violations and there is a need to tell Pakistan in unequivocal terms that Indian response to provocations of Pakistan will be firm.
Cautioning Pakistan to “avoid armed conflict with India”, he said that the recent actions of the neighbouring country like firing into the Indian territory will “further besmirch” Pakistan’s image.
“The firing has to stop. There has to be ceasefire. Only then diplomacy can be initiated...it is better that firing stops and diplomacy begins,” he said.