Centre holds all-party meet, leaders hail IAF 'bravery'

As the news came out, Rahul Gandhi tweeted his praise for the IAF. “I salute the pilots of the IAF,” he said.

Cutting across the political divide, leaders Tuesday came together to hail the Indian Air Force’s strikes on a militant camp across the Line of Control, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that the country is in safe hands and he will not let the nation down.

While the opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, kept their reactions to praising the IAF, BJP leaders and their allies used what is being seen as Indian retaliation following the Pulwama attack to laud Modi’s decisive leadership and political will which, they asserted, have driven the response from armed forces.Following an all-party meeting called by the government to brief leaders on the operation, the Congress asserted that it will support security forces in their “efforts to finish terrorism coming into India from outside” as parties praised the IAF for its action.

As the news came out, Rahul Gandhi tweeted his praise for the IAF. “I salute the pilots of the IAF,” he said.
Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee echoed the view, saying “IAF also means India’s Amazing Fighters. Jai Hind.”

Joining in, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati offered her salute and respect for the IAF but added that had the Modi government given a free hand to the armed forces earlier, militant attacks in Pulwama, Pathankot and Uri would have been avoided.

The BJP was quick in seizing on the issue to project Modi’s “strong and decisive” leadership at a time when national security has emerged as an important political plank in the run up to the Lok Sabha election.
Its president Amit Shah said the IAF strikes on camps in Pakistan underscore the will and resolve of a new India and it has shown that the country is safe under Modi’s strong and decisive leadership.

“I congratulate and salute the bravery and valour of our armed forces. Today’s action further demonstrates that India is safe and secure under the strong and decisive leadership of PM Narendra Modi,” he said.

“The entire country is celebrating Diwali after the air strikes,” he said.
Top BJP leaders and Union ministers echoed a similar view. Union minister Prakash Javadekar said India stood firmly behind Modi.

Its ally and Lok Janshakti Party president Ram Vilas Paswan said the stringent action against terrorism is a victory of Modi’s skilful leadership.
Taking a dig at opposition parties, he said it shows the country needs a strong government and not a helpless one.

BJP’s ideological mentor and Hindutva organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh congratulated the government and the Indian Air Force, saying they have translated into action the angry feelings of Indians following the Pulwama attack.

Several State governments also lauded the IAC strikes.
The assembly in the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh saw Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, BJP legislative party leader Dharamlal Kaushik and other members of the House saluting the valour of Indian soldiers.

“The state assembly hails the bravery and courage of Indian Air Force. The entire House is with our forces,” speaker Charandas Mahant said.
In the Maharashtra assembly, an unanimous resolution was passed congratulating the IAF for carrying out the air strike on launchpads in Pakistan.

The Haryana assembly congratulated Modi and the armed forces for the “surgical strike” across the Line of Control.

Hindutva leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath praised Modi and said he is the only one who could “make an impossible task possible”.

“The Indian Air Force has killed more than 400 militants. Hitting the enemy in its den can be done only by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said addressing a public meeting in Hardoi.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the strike signifies a “totally new ballgame” as it was first time that air power was used during peace time to hit militant targets in the neighbouring country.

“We’ve entered a whole new paradigm with the Balakote air strike. The post Uri strike was to avenge our losses, Balakote was a ‘preemptive strike to prevent an imminent JeM attack’. Totally new ballgame,” Abdullah tweeted.

Later, Swaraj said she was happy that representatives of all parties lauded the Indian Air Force action and extended support to the government by rising above politics.

She also told the leaders that she is in touch with the foreign ministers of various countries on the issue and she will be travelling to China soon where she will meet the Chinese and Russian Foreign ministers and discuss the operation.

The Congress, which was represented at the meeting by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, said it will extend its support to the government on any action it takes to eradicate terrorism from the country.

Azad said after the meeting that political parties lauded the IAF strikes to “destroy terror camps in a neat and clean operation as there were no civilian casualties”. He also said the leaders appreciated the efforts of the forces and they always have “their support to end terrorism”.

“We will support our security forces in their endeavour to finish terrorism coming into India from outside. The good thing was that it was a very clean operation which specifically targeted terrorists and terror camps and there were no civilian deaths,” he said.

After Swaraj briefed them, the leaders sounded a word of caution to the government to not lower the guard and watch out for Pakistan’s action.
“The government should remain alert and watch out for what Pakistan is going to do,” D Raja said.