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Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, in New Delhi. (File photo) Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: At a time when India’s political establishment has stood by the government’s decision to carry out limited military strikes against Pakistan, the fall out of the operation has resulted in relative discomfort and unease in the opposition ranks. Talking exclusively to Gulf News in New Delhi, senior Congress politician and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad reiterated his party’s commitment to stand by the Indian army, but he had some harsh words for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“At a time when the entire nation, including the opposition, is standing behind the Indian armed forces, the ruling party (BJP) under Prime Minister Modi is trying to gain political capital out of the prevailing India-Pakistan tension. He is behaving as if this is his personal army,” Azad said. “Security forces belong to the nation and not to any one political party alone,” he added.

Coming down hard on the BJP government for trying to exploit the current situation, the veteran leader noted, “Let us not forget that India comprises of many religions, regions and castes. Everyone in the country is very proud of our security forces. No political party, not least the ruling dispensation should try and exploit this very precarious situation we find ourselves in.”

Echoing the opposition’s public position of standing behind the government and army at a time of national crisis, Azad appealed to the government to display maturity. “This is a time when the government of India must take the opposition on board. The Congress party along with the rest of the country’s opposition is not opposing the government for any of its shortcomings. We are standing by it and behaving like a responsible opposition. The government should also behave responsibly,” he noted.

Azad, who was previously a senior minister in several union governments and chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), appreciated the army’s role in wiping out the scourge of terrorism. “We fully support the security forces in the process of eliminating militants both within the country and across the border. Congress has always stood by the nation and our army. We are quite proud of that fact.”

Admitting that terrorism has led to the suffering of Indians, the leader of the opposition backed the nation’s resolve to fight terror, “India has suffered immensely at the hands of terrorists for years. In the last three decades the people of J&K have suffered the most on account of militancy. Therefore any resolve against militancy by the government of India or army is most welcome,” he said.