Prime Minister Narendra Modi today slammed senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh for terming the Pulwama terror attack as an "accident", and claimed that such statements reflect the "mentality" of his party. "The party that ruled our country for decades is now questioning the ability of our brave forces. Today, a leader from Madhya Pradesh said that the Pulwama terror attack was an accident.This is their mentality..." news agency ANI quoted PM Modi as saying at an election rally in Madhya Pradesh's Dhar.
The 71-year-old former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister had earlier said that after the Pulwama durghatana (accident) and the Indian Air Force strike that followed, sandeh (doubt) was being expressed in some foreign media reports -- raising a question mark on the centre's credibility.
Mr Singh's comment was condemned by many, including Union Minister VK Singh, who expressed dismay over the senior politician casting doubts on a terror attack that had claimed the lives of 40 CRPF soldiers on February 14. "Calling a terrorist attack an 'accident' should NOT be the political discourse in our country. @digvijaya_28 ji, would you call Rajiv Gandhi's assassination an accident? Don't weaken the nation & the morale of our armed forces with these senseless jibes," he tweeted.
This is not the first time a remark by Mr Singh has provided the BJP with much-needed ammunition to target the Congress. He had inadvertently referred to Kashmir as "India-occupied-Kashmir" in 2016, creating an outroar that forced him to reiterate that it is an integral part of the country. A year later, he mistakenly referred to late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as Rahul Gandhi in a tweet -- leaving Twitter users amused.
In the run-up to the Madhya Pradesh elections last year, the senior leader was heard saying in a video that he has been asked by the Congress leadership to not make speeches that could harm the party. "I have one job. No campaigning, no speeches. My speeches dent Congress votes, so I don't go," Mr Singh was heard telling party workers.
In the days following the Indian Air Force attack on a terrorist camp at Pakistan's Balakot, the opposition has accused the ruling BJP of using the military operation to woo voters ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The centre, for its part, maintains that such claims by opposition leaders only serve to demoralise the armed forces.
(With inputs from Agencies)