Gunfire on India-Pakistan border singes Maharashtra poll arena

Mumbai: Notwithstanding the de-escalation in cross-border shelling in Jammu and Kashmir, the electoral arena in Maharashtra today kept reverberating from its effect.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under fire from the opposition over his government's handling of the issue, said Pakistan has been taught a "befitting lesson", Congress saw a "correlation" between the ceasefire violations and Modi's accession to power at the Centre.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar
 NCP chief Sharad Pawar

NCP chief Sharad Pawar too took on Modi over his yesterday's jibe questioning the Maratha strongman's performance during his stint as Defence Minister. "Pakistan has got a befitting lesson. They will not dare to repeat it again. Our jawans have shut their mouth," Modi said at an election rally at Dhamangaon in Maharashtra for the October 15 Assembly poll.

"Congress is busy issuing statements over what is happening on the Pakistan border. This not the time for empty 'boli' (talk) by them, but for 'goli' (bullet) by our jawans," he said, apparently patting his government for the army's tough response to the aggression.

Facing opposition flak for his 'silence' on ceasefire violations, Modi had yesterday said India responded to the aggression with courage and lamented public debate on the issue for political gains. However, despite his call for not dragging the issue into political discourse, neither Modi nor his rivals have shied away from raising the issue on the campaign trail.

"There is a correlation between these ceasefire violations and the Modi-led NDA coming to power," senior Congress leader and former Union Minister from Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad said in Pune. Azad said it was Modi who had politicised the matter during 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign by claiming that UPA government had failed to secure the country's borders.

"As many as eight persons have been killed and 93 injured in the current firing leading to displacement of about 35,000 people in three districts of Jammu," Azad said. On Modi's statement that the military had retaliated strongly, Azad said, "The army belongs to the nation and it had retaliated to provocations during the UPA rule also. The Indian army belongs to the entire nation and not to the BJP and we are proud of our brave soldiers."

The Congress leader said Modi should have visited Jammu to learn about the plight of local people instead of campaigning in Maharashtra for Assembly election.

He alleged that Modi was indulging in "appeasement" of Pakistan and China by rolling out the red carpet for their leaders and not pointedly taking up with them the issues of border skirmishes and infiltration.

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