BJP slams Cong manifesto over AFSPA review move
Itanagar/New Delhi, Apr 3: The Congress manifesto drew fresh criticism from the BJP on Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging it is a 'dhakosla patra'(sham manifesto) full of lies and the party chief Amit Shah and Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying the promise to review AFSPA would pose a threat to the country.
The pledge to scrap the British-era sedition law that is reviled by activists was also slammed with Shah asking the Congress who was it trying to protect.
Sitharaman alleged that various provisions in the opposition party's manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls “are a threat to the country as it favours separatists and terrorists and will demoralise the armed forces”.
Another BJP leader and former External Affairs minister S M Krishna termed the Congress' promise to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) as "very dangerous."
The AFSPA gives the armed forces certain protections from legal action in carrying out their operations in disturbed areas.
Dismissing the BJP allegation that the party manifesto was “soft on terror”, AICC in-charge of Congress affairs in Telangana R C Khuntia said the ruling party should explain its record in handling security issues during the last five years.
"What are they doing? They should also explain....why terrorism is continuing? Why more forces are being killed? They should give the answer about five years," he told reporters in Hyderabad.
The BJP should first explain why there were allegedly more incidents, instead of asking another political party about its manifesto, he said.
Modi brought up the Congress manifesto during his campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal and accused the Congress and the ruling Trinamool Congress(TMC) of being sympathisers of Pakistan who wanted to "break the morale" of India's forces and make them "helpless" in the fight against terror.
"I saw this 'dhakosla patra' released by the Congress. It is meant to break the morale of our security forces.
"It promises removing AFSPA from disturbed areas like Kashmir. This is an attempt to render our brave soldiers helpless in the fight against terror, have their hands and feet tied," Modi told the rally in the north Bengal town of Siliguri.
He accused the Congress of being "soft on terror” because of its "appeasement" politics, which was reflected in its governments scrapping tough anti-terror laws like TADA and POTA.
"We too scrapped over 1,400 obsolete laws from statute books. We have also withdrawn the AFSPA from some areas after peace returned there. The Congress' election promise will help those peddling terror from Pakistan," he said in Kolkata, accusing the Congress party of "playing with national security and trying to destabilise the country".
The prime minister said the manifesto showed that the Congress had no faith in the security forces and the law of the land.
"This chowkidar stands as a wall between the sham manifesto of the Congress and national security. This manifesto has come with an expiry date --May 23 (the day poll results will be announced). On May 23, both the Congress and its 'dhakosla patra' will be gone," he said.
Lashing out at the Congress for promising to remove the anti-sedition law from the CrPC in its manifesto, Shah asked, who was the Congress trying to protect.
"Who do you want to protect? When anti-India slogans like 'bharat tere tukde honge' were shouted in JNU you stood with them in the name of right to freedom of speech. Do you want to protect those booked under the anti-sedition law?" the BJP president asked at a rally in Dehradun.
Advising the Congress president not to "stoop so low for the politics of vote", Shah asked him to stop playing with the country's security.
He also slammed the Congress for promising to revoke the AFSPA which gives special powers to the armed forces saying the party was not bothered about the safety of the country's security personnel.
"Rahul baba, it is not within the powers of your party to revoke AFSPA which is for the security of our armed forces. BJP stands like a rock against your designs. We cannot risk the lives of our armed forces. We can't demoralise them," he said.
"The Narendra Modi government stands like a rock with the armed forces," Shah added.
Sitharaman told reporters in Delhi that the Congress manifesto is not in national interest and “indirectly helps terrorists and others working against the country”.
She insisted that her party was not against withdrawing the AFSPA, if situation permitted it, but the Congress' promise to tweak its provisions, if voted to power, will allow terrorists and their friends to target security personnel with manufactured allegations.
The Modi government in tandem with respective state governments has withdrawn AFSPA from Meghalaya and Tripura and most parts of Assam, she said, asking that from how many places did the Congress remove it when it was in power during 2004-14.
On the Congress' stand that powers of armed forces and human rights should be balanced, she said it should not be presumed that the former is against the latter.
"It does not portend well for unity of the country and the morale of armed forces," she said.