Escalating the BJP-Congress war of words ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, Defence Minister and senior BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman attacked the grand old party by saying that it was playing a dangerous game and would be responsible if any disharmony played out between now and the 2019 general elections. “It is playing up the card of religion and communal division. It may lead to the kind of division and communal disharmony which prevailed during the partition in 1947,” Sitharaman alleged as per a PTI report.
Taking on Congress President Rahul Gandhi over a media report which quoted him as saying that the Congress was a Muslim party, Sitharaman said that the Congress chief must come out and tell very clearly what he meant when he made that statement. She also took a dig at him on the earlier remark where Congress said that Gandhi was a janeu-dhari (one who wears sacred Brahminical thread). She asked if it was a course correction for the party whose leader claimed to be janeu dhari. “You can’t be janeu-dhari at one point and Muslim-dhari at another… This is playing with the people’s trust”, the Defence Minister was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the Congress hit back at the BJP for its statement that the opposition party was trying to create a “partition-like situation” in the country, saying that it was the saffron party that was seeking to polarise people and divert attention from “real issues”. The Congress has dismissed the media report as a “rumour” and asserted that it was a party of 132 crore Indians. Taking on Sitharaman, Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said it was expected that with just days to go for the monsoon session, the Defence Minister would take up issues which are “unnecessarily to create a controversy and move away from real issues”. Through her press meet, the defence minister “is trying to create tensions between people of different religions,” the Congress MP said.
Congress also raked up the issue of 2002 Gujarat riots accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making repeated attempts to polarise people. “We request you that do not through your press meets increase division, do not through your press meets go ahead towards polarisation because that is the only thing prime minister falls back on before every election,” said Dev.