NEW DELHI: As India celebrates on Thursday 50 years of the historic victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, which gave birth to the neighbouring country, the ruling BJP and the principal opposition party Congress clashed with each other on the occasion.
The Congress organised a public rally of its leader Rahul Gandhi in Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun to mark the day. The Congress named the programme “Vijay Samman Rally”.
However, the BJP launched a frontal attack on the Congress for celebrating the day.
The battle between the BJP and the Congress over ‘Vijay Diwas’ started on Thursday morning on social media.
Uttarakhand is likely to face assembly election in February-March along with four other states of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Punjab, Manipur and Goa. The ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress party are in a direct contest in the hilly state.
Uttarakhand has a good representation in the country's defence forces. The first chief of defence staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat was also from the hilly state, which was carved out from UP in 2000.
In a bid to draw political mileage out of the situation, while the Congress organised Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Vijay Samman Rally’ in Dehradun, the BJP sought to take the wind out of the opposition party’s sails by launching a sharp attack on it.
On the other hand, the Congress lodged a strong protest against the Narendra Modi government for omitting former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s name who is credited with the victory over Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
PM Modi, in a tweet on the occasion, said: “On this special day of Vijay Diwas, I had the honour of paying my respects at the National War Memorial and merging into the Eternal Flame, the four Vijay Mashaals which traversed across the length and breadth of the country over the course of last one year.”
Defence minister Rajnath Singh also sang paeans to the armed forces. In a tweet, he said: “On the occasion of ‘Swarnim Vijay Diwas’ we remember the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces during the 1971 India-Pakistan War. The 1971 war is the golden chapter in India’s military history. We are proud of our armed forces and their achievements.”
In two more tweets, he shared some rare pictures of the 1971 war.
Uttarakhand BJP attacks Congress
The Uttarakhand unit of the BJP, on its part, came down heavily on the Congress. A senior leader, while talking to TOI, called Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Vijay Samman Rally’ a “Congress’s hypocrisy”. “A party that has never cared for forces, used them for loot, didn’t capitalise on advantages they brought and time and again disrespected forces are talking of Vijay Samman!” he said.
The BJP Uttarakhand put out four tweets with photographs of Rahul Gandhi and senior Congress leader and former chief minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat.
One of them had headlines of news reports saying “Kamal Nath questions surgical strike, targets PM Modi” and “(Maharashtra Congress leader) Sanjay Nirupam calls surgical strikes by the Army against Pakistan 'fake'”. The tweet said: “Those raising doubts over the surgical strike will respect Vijay Diwas!”
The second tweet said: “Those who committed a scam in Bofors will respect Vijay Diwas!”
The third tweet from the Uttarakhand BJP said: “Those calling the Indian Army "rapists" will respect Vijay Diwas!”
The last tweet was directed at Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who was seen dancing in Goa in a local function with local women. It said: “Those who celebrated the death of (Chief of Defence Staff) Gen Bipin Rawat will respect Vijay Diwas!”
Congress attacks Modi govt for omitting Indira Gandhi’s name
The Congress took strong exception to the Modi government leaving out Indira Gandhi’s name in official functions on the day.
In his public speech in Dehradun during the Vijay Samman rally, Rahul Gandhi said: “I can't forget the day when I was informed that Indira ji had been hit by 32 bullets... It does not make any difference to me. But see, you have taken the name of Indira Gandhi. A function was held in Delhi on the Bangladesh War. There is not even the mention of Indira Gandhi's name. The lady who got 32 bullets for the country, her name is not even there in the invitation. Because the government is afraid of the truth. It does not make any difference to me. I know what Indira ji did by shedding her blood for the country.”
He put out a tweet giving credit to Indira Gandhi. He said: Remembering the martyrs and veterans of the 1971 war. India won the war to save the idea of democracy under the able leadership of former PM Smt Indira Gandhi ji. Jai Hind! #VijayDiwas2021”
Priyanka also hit out at the BJP. She said: "Our first and only woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi is being left out of the misogynist BJP government’s Vijay Diwas celebrations. This, on the 50th anniversary of the day that she led India to victory and liberated Bangladesh. Narendra Modi ji, women don’t believe your platitudes. Your patronising attitude is unacceptable. It’s about time you started giving women their due."
Calling Indira an ‘Iron Lady, Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a tweet: "The Modi government and the BJP will not desist from playing their cheap and low politics. On the 50th Vijay Diwas of Bangladesh's independence, the PM and his government did not even take the name of the ‘Iron Lady’ of the 1971 War, Indira Gandhi, is an example of their frustrated and narrow mentality."