Stepping up its attack on Narendra Modi, the Congress said on Friday the prime minister must say what he was doing in the initial two hours after the Pulwama terror strike and alleged that he was either "completely oblivious" to the incident or "insensitive".
The opposition also alleged, citing DD News footage, that the prime minister addressed a rally in Uttarakhand at 5:10 pm via phone.
Congress spokesperson addressing the media said, “The NDA-BJP Government is an exquisite mixture of jingoistic arrogance and strategic ignorance and the irresponsible utterances of their ministers demonstrate this maxim on a daily basis. When does the BJP get a monopoly over nationalism that one of their ministers very arrogantly stated yesterday that the Congress sounds like Pakistan?”
The BJP earlier dubbed the Congress's allegations as "shameful" and rejected the charges, saying the opposition party exposed its "true colours" after it kept a "facade" of standing with security forces and the government following the terror strike.
Responding to the BJP allegations the Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the prime minister not only addressed the rally but continued with a photoshoot at the Corbett National Park in the hours following the Pulwama terror strike in which 40 CRPF jawans died after a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the paramilitary force's convoy in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district.
The Congress spokesperson raised two questions. What was the prime minister doing between 03:10 pm in the afternoon and 05:10 pm in the afternoon, on the day CRPF jawans were attacked? Was he aware that the attack had taken place and he continued with his photo shoot posing as Commander Corbett?
“Then there can be no greater insensitivity then this and then at 05:10 pm in the afternoon, he deliberately chooses not to mention a word about the Pulwama attack. The Prime Minister continues to be Commander Corbett. He has his lunch, shoots some Photographs of some wild life on his mobile phone and life is absolutely normal for him, while 40 Jawans have laid down their lives in one of the most heinous terror attacks the country has seen. And he chooses not even to refer to the attack in his address at 05:10 pm in the afternoon,” he added.
Then he went on to ask another question-- “Was it that between 03:10 pm in the afternoon and 05:10 pm in the afternoon, the Prime Minister of India was unaware that a terror attack had taken place in Pulwama? The Prime Minister of India was either not informed by his office or the Prime Minister was incommunicado? What does it speak about command and control systems in the highest echelons of the Indian state?”
In both these situations, the prime minister needs to answer for those two hours, the Congress spokesperson said, adding that both the scenarios do not auger well for the country.
"These leaks, peeks, and squeaks -- source based reports which pliable journalists lap up these days -- that is not the way the nation states should function," Tewari said.
"Mr prime minister we will not let you and your government get away by playing with the security of the Indian nation," he said.
He accused the government of trying to "package high-octane jingoism to subterfuge national security failures" and said if the prime minister was "incommunicado" hours after the attack then it was matter of grave concern, especially for a nuclear nation, as it could have serious consequences.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel also attacked the government over the issue, saying it was a matter of grave concern that the Prime Minister Modi was "incommunicado at the time of an attack on the nation's sovereignty".
You can watch Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari’s media address here:
With inputs from PTI