Congress, RJD Leaders Call Attack On IAF Convoy "Poll Stunt", Spark Row

Former Punjab Chief Minister and Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi has landed in a huge row with his comment that Saturday's Terror attack in Poonch, in which an Air Force soldier was killed and four others injured, was a "pre-election stunt".

May 6, 2024 - 01:45
Congress, RJD Leaders Call Attack On IAF Convoy "Poll Stunt", Spark Row

The terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch, in which a soldier of the Indian Air Force has died, has become grist to the political mill amid the massive seven-phase election across the country. Two leaders of the Opposition, former Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tej Pratap Yadav, have drawn a parallel with the Pulwama attack of 2019 in which 40 CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) men died, and alleged that Saturday's attack was also a "stunt" to help the BJP win.

Their comments have provided the BJP a handle to attack the Congress, with Union Minister Anurag Thakur enumerating the instances the Grand Old Party has let down the armed forces.

"These are all stunts and not terrorist attacks. There is no truth in it. The BJP is playing with the lives of people and bodies," Mr Channi said while campaigning in Jalandhar, from where he is contesting.

"These attacks are not really happening but just meant to benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party... Whenever elections take place, such stunts are played – like it happened last time," he added, pointing to the 2019 Pulwama attack.

In Patna, Tej Pratap Yadav toed a similar line. "Whenever elections come, Pulwama and terrorist attacks take place... Our soldiers were martyred because of Prime Minister Modi ji," he said.

"This is a poor statement. This reflects their mentality," said Union minister Anurag Thakur. "Instead of strengthening the army, they did brokerage for 10 years... After Pulwama we did surgical strike. These people held a hearing at 2:30 pm to stop the hanging of the Parliament attack accused... People will not forget that 1000 km has been taken away - the area of Aksai Chin, a part has been taken by Sri Lanka," he added.

Punjab leader Sunil Jakhar, who is among those who crossed over from the Congress to the BJP , also slammed the comment of Mr Channi. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said:

Jalandhar BJP candidate Sushil Rinku attacked Mr Channi. "The former Chief Minister says it was drama... the person who remained on such a sensitive post. Instead of mourning the death of saniks and recognising their matrydom, he says it is drama. I feel that this is disrespect to our saniks and it is also against country. i condemn it," he said.

After the 2019 attack in Pulwama, which took place in the run-up to the general election, national security had become a key issue on which the polls had pivoted. Days after the attack, India had retaliated with aerial strikes at Balakot, deep in Pakistani territory.

After the BJP victory in the election, the Opposition had raised multiple questions and even demanded a white paper.

But over the years, the Congress had softened its tone, wary of the BJP allegation that the party was casting doubt on the armed forces.

In Saturday's terror attack on two IAF vehicles in the Bakrabal (Sanai) area of Poonch, Corporal Vikky Pahade of the Indian Air Force was killed and four other soldiers injured.

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