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As BJP Gains Edge With Post-Pulwama Action, Congress Strategy to Focus on National Security

Many within the Congress feel that they had walked straight into the BJP’s trap after some of their leaders questioned the Balakot air strikes and the casualty figures.

Pallavi Ghosh | CNN-News18_pallavighosh

Updated:March 12, 2019, 1:32 PM IST

The Congress will make the guarantee of national security its fulcrum for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the issue will find a mention in the party’s manifesto as well.

Top Congress sources have told News18 that ensuring speedy response to terror acts and providing martyr status for paramilitary forces who take the maximum and first hit during terror strikes such as Pulwama are some of the points expected to be incorporated in the manifesto.

The move comes after the Congress, within its quarters, admitted that the BJP had walked away with the edge post the Indian Air Force strikes on terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot. Before the action, the Opposition was confident that the electorate was angry with unemployment. The Congress decided not to politicise the issue and back the government on the strikes but the moment it cited international media reports and began to ask for exact casualty figures, the BJP seized the opportunity and labelled the grand old party “anti-national” for “questioning the armed forces”. Many within the Congress feel that they had walked straight into the BJP’s trap.

This is why the party did a rethink and Rahul Gandhi addressed a press conference over the Rafale issue, deciding that like the rest of the Opposition, it should focus on people’s issues.

The Congress, however, is aware that national security as an issue cannot be ignored which is why Rahul has tried to turn the tables on the BJP by questioning the release of terrorist Masood Azhar.

Sushmita Deb of the Congress said, “When it comes to national security, our track record is better than that of the BJP. Parliament attack happened during their tenure. Whenever they are in power, attacks happen. We will always offer better security to people of India.”

But is the promise of national security and swift response to terror an acknowledgment that the Congress was slow to act after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks? No, says former home minister and Congress leader RPN Singh. “We had put all systems in place. We announced a bounty on Azhar and action against those involved.”

It’s clear that in election season, the Congress cannot run away from taking an anti-terror stand. Hence, they too are rushing in to project a muscular position.

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