Political Leaders Commend IAF for Successful Airstrikes on Jaish Camp

While most leaders from the BJP and opposition took to Twitter in praise of the IAF's airstrike in Balakot, others cautioned against further military escalation and politicisation of the issue.

New Delhi: Most Indian political parties congratulated the Indian air force (IAF) for conducting a successful strike on the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad’s training camp in Balakot, Pakistan on Tuesday.

While the BJP naturally showered praises for the government and the IAF, the opposition, too, commended the defence forces for carrying out a successful operation.

The BJP president Amit Shah said, “I congratulate India’s defence forces for their bravery. I salute them. After today’s airstrike, it has been re-established that India is safe under prime minister Narendra Modi’s strong and decisive leadership.”

He went on to add, “Today’s action shows a new India’s will and determination. This new India, under no circumstance, will neither tolerate nor forgive terrorism, terrorists and those who shelter them.”

Most senior BJP leaders, too, took to social media to congratulate the union government under Modi and the defence forces for such a decisive action. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also posted his picture with security personnel.

Curiously, however, the Delhi chief of BJP, Manoj Tiwari said that he was awake till 4:30 am in the morning as he was in tears because he was worried about the safety of Indian pilots.

“I was awake until 4:30 am even though some people tracked on WhatsApp and asked why I was awake. I was awake because something was happening that this country was waiting for,” he told ABP news.

When asked whether he knew about the covert operation, he deflected the question by saying, “Sir, I have not been able to sleep since Pulwama attack. When I sensed (about air strikes) in the night, I had tears in my eyes because it was important for our soldiers to return back even though they entered Pakistan in fighter planes. And this is the moment, when I also salute Narendra Modi.”

His statements soon evoked reactions on social media, with people asking whether BJP leaders knowing about this sensitive operation before hand amounted to a security breach.

Opposition’s responses

A host of Congress leaders were quick to react on social media immediately after reports about the airstrike started coming in.

The Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in his short message, paid his respect to the pilots of IAF.

The chief spokesperson of the party Randeep Surjewala commended the IAF’s bravery.

While congratulating the IAF, former union minister and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor cautioned against the unnecessary politicisation of the airstrike. “The unseemly gloating of some crediting one party or leader is ahistorical and unwise,” he said, adding that India fights wars, not the Congress or BJP.

The Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has emerged as one of the most aggressive opposition leaders in recent times and had recently criticised the prime minister for using the Pulwama attack for political gains, had this to say:

The Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav said, “We salute bravery of our pilots and Air Force. We are blessed and proud of out forces. Jai Hind.”

Similarly Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, and the chief minister of Delhi and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal also congratulated the IAF.

Kejriwal even announced that he has postponed his indefinite hunger strike planned from 1 March to demand full statehood for Delhi.

Among those who sent out measured responses were leaders from Kashmir, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti, former ally of the BJP and People’s Democratic Party chief.

Abdullah, a stakeholder in the multi-decade long Kashmir conflict, termed the airstrike as a “totally new ballgame”.

He went on to demand that the union government should now ensure the safety of those families who stay along the LoC. “Now we have an obligation to ensure that our people living near the international border and line of control are not caught in any Pakistani response. Local administrations need to be ready to evacuate and rehouse people to safe areas if situation escalates,” he tweeted, adding that he has already asked his party members to assist vulnerable families.

He went on to appeal for peace in the region, saying that war will not resolve disputes.

He also took the opportunity to caution the BJP against any aggression.

Mufti questioned the politically-motivated war hysteria following the Pulwama attack. She has been severely critical of multiple attacks Kashmiris have had to face by right-wing groups across different parts of India after the Pulwama incident.

In a series of tweets, she made her views against any form of escalation clear.

Among the leaders from Hindi-speaking areas, only Mayawati, the Bahujan Samaj Party chief, pointed out that intelligence failures of the Modi government during the Pulwama attack were responsible for such a national security crisis. She welcomed the IAF strike and applauded the bravery of the defence forces.

TMC supporter Garga Chatterjee applauded Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which manufactured the Mirage-2000 fighter jets. He took aim at the Modi government for neglecting the public sector unit in favour of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited in the controversial Rafale deal.