The Congress today criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for receiving Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the airport and questioned whether a "grand welcome" to those who praised Pakistan's "anti-terror" efforts was his way of remembering the soldiers killed in the Pulwama terror attack.
Prime Minister Modi broke with protocol on Tuesday evening as he went to the airport for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's arrival. He shared a handshake with the Saudi prince and hugged him on the steps of his plane. The Congress, criticizing the welcome, posted videos of the hug.
"National interests v/s Modiji''s ''hugplomacy'' breaking protocol, grand welcome to those who pledged USD 20 billion to Pakistan and praised Pakistan's ''anti-terror'' efforts. Is it ur way of remembering martyrs of Pulwama?" Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, tagging photographs of PM Modi hugging the crown prince and sharing a laugh at the airport.
Mr Surjewala also urged the prime minister to "show courage" and ask Saudi Arabia to undo its joint statement with Pakistan in which they called for avoiding "politicisation" of the UN listing regime at a time when India was stepping up efforts to brand the JeM terror group's chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.
"Modiji, is asking for a terrorist to be designated as such politicisation of UN listings? Would you show courage to ask Saudi Arabia to undo their 'joint statement' with Pakistan virtually rejecting India's demand for designating Masood Azhar as a 'global terrorist'," he said.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed the Congress for the comments.
"Respected Crown Prince is here and I have personally seen how he is very respectful towards PM Modi in Rashtrapati Bhavan. So, the Congress should not say such halki baat," he said.
The Crown Prince is on a day's visit to India after concluding a high-profile tour of Pakistan, where he said dialogue was the only way to resolve "outstanding issues" between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also signed investment agreements worth $ 20 billion on Sunday.
The Crown Prince's statements in Pakistan have been criticised as India makes efforts to ensure Islamabad's diplomatic isolation over the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers in Kashmir's Pulwama by a suicide bomber of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.