Rahul Gandhi slams Digvijaya Singh’s comments on ‘surgical strikes’
Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh’s comments questioning the “surgical strikes” against Pakistan were “ridiculous” but emphasised that his party was not a dictatorship and had a culture of allowing conversations.
He added that the armed forces did not need to provide proof of the “surgical strikes”.
“We think conversations are very, very important. Sometimes, there are people in every conversation who will say ridiculous things. In this case, I am sorry to say this about the senior leader that he said a ridiculous thing,” Rahul told a news conference in Jammu.
Rahul, however, sought to contend that the controversy had highlighted the democracy that exists within the Congress as opposed to dictatorship within the BJP-RSS, and dismissed suggestions that Digvijaya’s remarks could distract attention from the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s gains.
“We are a democratic party. We are not a dictatorship. We don’t run our party on principles of coercion. We don’t appreciate Mr Digvijaya Singh’s personal views but the views of the party are above Mr Digvijaya Singh’s comments,” he said.
Digvijaya had on Monday asked the Narendra Modi government to explain the February 2019 suicide attack in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF personnel, and said the Centre had provided no proof of the “surgical strikes” it claims to have carried out against Pakistani interests.
Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh had on the same day clarified that Digvijaya had spoken in his personal capacity and that his views did not reflect the party stand. But the BJP had pounced on Digvijaya’s comments to accuse the Congress of insulting the armed forces and betraying a lack of patriotism.
Rahul faced a volley of questions on the remarks by Digvijaya, who is part of Yatra but was not present at Tuesday’s media briefing.
“The views of the party are generated from the conversations within the party. I want to assure you that Mr Digvijaya Singh’s views are outlier views. They are not the views that are held by the centre of the party,” Rahul said, before taking a dig at the BJP-RSS.
He said the culture of permitting conversations sometimes allowed people to speak out of turn, unlike the BJP-RSS where everything was decided at the top and nobody could ask questions.
Rahul said the November 2016 demonetisation and the GST implementation were proof of this.
Rahul put up a strong defence of the armed forces, saying it was “absolutely crystal clear that the armed forces do a job and they do a job exceptionally well”.
“They do not need to provide proof of their actions,” he added.
Asked whether Digvijaya’s remarks had played spoiler amid the Yatra, Rahul said the Yatra had achieved “something fundamental and very powerful” and what the “Yatra has done cannot be changed now”.
“It (Digvijaya’s comment) has not changed the narrative. One or two comments by a leader cannot change the fundamental fact that the Yatra has been a success in bringing India together. I am quite pleased with what this Yatra has achieved,” he said.
Digvijaya had on Monday told a Yatra-related event: “The Pulwama incident happened; more than 40 CRPF jawans were killed. Why? The CRPF director had demanded that the jawans be airlifted because this is a sensitive zone. But Modi didn’t agree. Pulwama was a terror-hit zone. Why were the jawans not given an aeroplane?
“Every single vehicle is checked in Pulwama. A Scorpio vehicle comes from the wrong direction. Why was that not checked? It hit the CRPF convoy, killing our jawans. Till today, the details of that incident have not been presented in Parliament or before the people. They talk of surgical strikes, but there is no proof. They grabbed power only by propagating lies. I have never seen such an ustad (master) of lies in politics.”