New Delhi: A week after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement supporting Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in Lok Sabha polls, India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed it a Congress ploy.
Sitharaman, in an interview with news agency ANI, said, “I wouldn’t know why such statements are being made. Every time such statements are made. This is individually my perception and not my party’s or the government’s take. There have been many eminent leaders of the Congress who went there (Pakistan) to seek help to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They went there saying ‘Modi hatane ke liye hamen madad karo’ (help us to oust Modi). I wonder whether this is also a part of the scheme of things by Congress. I don’t know what to make of this honestly.”
Khan, while speaking to some journalists, had said there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the general election. Khan said if the next Indian government was led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir. “Perhaps if the BJP, a right wing party, wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” he added.
Khan’s remarks drew sharp reactions from opposition parties in Pakistan as well as in India, with the Congress saying a vote for Modi is a vote for Pakistan. “Pakistan has officially allied with Modi”, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had tweeted.
Pakistan then sought to clear the air and foreign minister Mahmood Qureshi said the statement was taken out of context as “everyone knows” about Khan’s reservations regarding PM Modi.
Meanwhile, Sitharaman also called out the “rampant sexism” in politics in the light of Azam Khan’s recent comments on BJP candidate and actor Jaya Prada, saying politicians must apply their minds before speaking on women’s issues.
The defence minister further asserted that there should be mutual respect among politicians for one another, “We have to draw a line. Irrespective of the party line, I think we have all learnt from good public discourse. It should be in the back of our minds what we talk about in politics as that is the legacy we leave behind for the next generation and we have a responsibility towards it.”