Congress MP Manish Tewari’s book – which says India should have acted against Pakistan after 26/11, when the party-led UPA was in power – has triggered a fresh row just days after controversy over comparisons between “Hindutva” and Islamist terror groups by Salman Khurshid in his book.
The ruling BJP – which ripped into the Congress and Mr Khurshid for his book – has slammed its rival over Mr Tewari’s book as well, calling it a “confession of the failures of the Congress”.
“(With reference to) what Manish Tewariji said in his book, which we all have seen in the media, it would not be wrong to say that the facts that have come out. It would be appropriate to call it a confession of the failure of the Congress…” the BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia told reporters.
“The gist of this book is that restraint can be considered weakness… India should have taken strict action (after the 26/11 attacks)… Today it became clear the Congress government was insincere, useless… they were not even concerned about issues like national security,” he added.
“Congress President Sonia Gandhiji, Rahul Gandhiji will you break your silence today? Sonia Gandhiji, our question is why India’s brave army was not given permission and free will at that time?” he said.
Mr Tewari responded saying he was “rather amused” by the BJP’s reaction to “one excerpt from a 304-page-book”.
I am rather amused at BJP reaction to one excerpt from a 304 page book that tries to dissect responses to national security situations that impacted India. I wonder would they (the BJP) react similarly to some “hard analysis’ about their handling of the National Security Remit also?”
The row is over Mr Tewari’s book – ’10 Flash Points; 20 Years – National Security Situations That Impacted India’. The section was shared by the ex Union Minister who said the book “objectively delves into every salient national security challenge India has faced in the past two decades”.
“For a state that has no compunctions in brutally slaughtering hundreds of innocent people, restraint is not a sign of strength; it is perceived as a symbol of weakness. There comes a time when actions must speak louder than words. 26/11 was one such time when it just should have been done. It, therefore, is my considered opinion India should have actioned a kinetic response in the days following India’s 9/11,” Mr Tewari writes in the book.
Mr Tewari is part of the G-23 (group of 23 Congress leaders who have expressed concerns about senior leadership, including the Gandhi family. He was also critical of Punjab Congress leader Navjot Sidhu for his comment about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan being his ‘bada bhai‘.
The section has drawn mocking tweets from the BJP’s Amit Malviya, who posted: “After Salman Khurshid, another Congress leader throws UPA under the bus to sell his book”.
“Manish Tewari in his new book slams the UPA for weakness in the name of restrain post 26/11. Air Chief Marshal Fali Major is already on record saying IAF was ready to strike but UPA froze,” Mr Malviya tweeted with a screenshot of a note with excerpts from the book’s publishers.
Ahead of multiple Assembly elections next year, including in the politically key state of Uttar Pradesh and in Punjab (which shares an extensive border with Pakistan), Mr Malviya also slammed the Congress’ “muddle thinking on national security”, declaring “… (it) made India a weak state”.
With elections due next year (and one eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha election), the BJP has ratcheted up pressure on the Congress, fuelled initially by the controversial excerpt in Salman Khurshid’s book.
Mr Khurshid, in his book on Ayodhya, compared “Hindutva” to Islamist terror groups like ISIS. The comparison drew howls of protest from the BJP, with Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra threatening to ban it. The book was also questioned by Mr Khurshid’s colleague, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Mr Khurshid, whose Nainital home was vandalised and burned, told news agency PTI: “I have not called these guys terrorists. I have just said they are similar in distorting religion.”
The 26/11 attacks saw 160 people murdered as terrorists went on a rampage. Nine terrorists were killed and the lone surviving attacker – Ajmal Kasab – was arrested and executed November 11, 2012.
The gruesome attack took place as the Congress-led UPA was in power at the centre. Between 2012 and 2014 Mr Tewari was I&B Minister in the second UPA government.
This week India will observe the 13th anniversary of those attacks, a fact the BJP will likely underline as it continues to highlight Mr Tewari’s books.