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India opposition party accused Narendra Modi on passing jingoistic comments

12 June, 2015

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NEW DELHI: India’s main opposition Congress party on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s senior aides of passing jingoistic comments on the disputed army action in Myanmar and also slammed them for making immature statements that embarrass the neighbours.

The Press Trust of India quoted a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as responding by saying the Congress spoke the language of Pakistan.

The exchange followed a muscle-flexing projection by Mr Modi’s colleagues of India’s army action against separatist militants in the northeastern Manipur state. The army has been quoted as claiming its troops crossed the border into Myanmar to hunt and kill militants camping across the border.

A government spokesman in Yangon was subsequently quoted as denying Indian military action inside Myanmar’s territory. He added that Myanmar would not allow any militants to use its territory to target India.

The Congress party asked Mr Modi’s colleagues to desist from making “boastful and jingoistic” statements over the army operation in Myanmar. The party asked Mr Modi to give them “mentoring and counselling”.

According to PTI, the BJP hit out, saying Congress was speaking Pakistan’s “language” instead of playing the role of a constructive opposition.

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma faulted Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s sharp statement saying he has “foot-in-mouth” disease and is in the “habit” of making “irresponsible” statements, PTI said.

Mr Sharma’s attack came on a day Mr Parrikar attributed the Myanmar operation to “change in mindset”. Apparently taking a dig at Pakistan, the minister said those who “fear India’s new posture” have already started reacting.

“There should be sobriety and maturity. Jingoism and boastful claims are not going to help the operations of India’s Special Forces,” Mr Sharma said.

He also advised National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to work and speak with restraint and said that his style of functioning raised serious questions of propriety.

“I would request the prime minister to give them mentoring and counselling... PM should restrain his ministers so there is no repeat,” he said.

The PTI said the Congress spokesman’s refrain was that in matters of operations by Special Forces and those concerning India’s neighbours there should be sobriety and maturity in the statements and actions of union ministers and others concerned.

“Those who should be taking care of national security are busy having sponsored stories in the newspapers and photographs about what they have been doing in Manipur. What they propose to do in the coming days,” he told reporters, in an apparent attack on the National Security Adviser, PTI said.

The Indian Army claimed undertaking a successful cross-border strike with the knowledge of Myanmarese authorities killing at least 38 insurgents who were part of the groups believed to be responsible for the ambush on June 4 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

Responding to Congress’ criticism, BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said: “Congress is in depression ever since it lost Lok Sabha elections. It is gripped with negative thoughts and criticises everything.”

“Congress should accept the reality and not speak the language of Pakistan, as done by it in the past. It should instead play the role of a constructive opposition and start talking in national interest and for the country’s security,” PTI quoted him as saying.

Asking Congress not to politicise the issue, he said the opposition party should have an introspection of its “mistakes” committed during the UPA’s 10-year rule.

“There is a strong leadership in place now and it will not repeat those mistakes. Through this operation, there is a clear message that if anyone tries to play with India, death will beseech the enemies,” the BJP leader said, according to PTI.

“The Myanmar attack is just a beginning. There will be similar actions whenever anyone tries to play with India’s security and challenges it,” he said, while asking Congress to refrain from making “irresponsible” statements.

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