When a country is the victim of an external aggression or is involved in a military conflict with an adversary, all political parties forget their differences and join hands for supporting the Government and the Armed Forces in their efforts to defeat the enemy.
We saw this in Western Europe and the US during the second World War. This has been the political tradition in India too since we became independent in 1947. Before the outbreak of the Sino-Indian war of 1962, there was considerable opposition criticism of the way Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister, and VK Krishna Menon, the then Defence Minister, were handling our differences with China.
But once the Chinese troops invaded India, all the opposition parties stopped their criticism of the Government and supported it and our Armed Forces in a total mark of solidarity.
We saw a similar demonstration of all-party solidarity behind the Congress Government when the Pakistani troops marched into the Jammu area in 1965 and after the outbreak of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. All the opposition parties forgot their differences with the Government and the Congress on various issues and supported it.
The BJP-led coalition under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was in power when the Pakistani troops intruded into the Kargil area of Jammu and Kashmir in 1999. Before the military conflict broke out in the Kargil area, the Congress Party, which was then in opposition, was strongly critical of the policies of the Vajpayee Government towards Pakistan and particularly Shri Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore in the beginning of the year.
But once the conflict broke out, the Congress stopped its criticism of the Vajpayee Government and extended it total support, in keeping with the tradition of national solidarity at the time of an external aggression or during a military conflict with an adversary. If the Congress Party had not done so, it would have been an act of treason and betrayal of our Armed Forces.
One was shocked beyond measure by the manner in which Shri Rahul Gandhi , while addressing a Congress rally in New Delhi on November 4,2012, projected his party’s support for the Vajpayee Government and our Armed Forces during the Kargil military conflict with Pakistan, as if it was a political favour shown by the Congress to the BJP-led Government. It was not an act of political favour, but an act of patriotism and solidarity with the jawans of our Armed Forces who fought bravely in the Kargil Heights. (http://www.rediff.com/news/report/rahul-draws-flak-from-bjp-over-kargil-remark/20121104.htm )
Shri Rahul Gandhi has found fault with the BJP for not reciprocating the support extended by the Congress during the external aggression in Kargil by supporting the Congress Party’s move to allow Foreign Direct Investment in the retail sector.
There is no question of a quid pro quo for an act of patriotism and national solidarity in the face of an external enemy invading our country. It is surprising that Shri Rahul Gandhi is not able to see the difference between an act of patriotism and national solidarity and an act of domestic economic decision-making and tries to look for a quid pro quo for extending support against external aggression.
By B Raman
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi)