The Congress party has landed in thick soup over remarks by one of its leaders apparently trying to downplay the significance of the Kargil war against Pakistan. The Congress has fielded former MP and late chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh as its candidate for the upcoming bypoll to the Mandi parliamentary seat in Himachal Pradesh. Bypolls to one Lok Sabha seat and three legislative assembly seats will be held on October 30. The BJP has fielded Kargil war veteran Brigadier Khushal Thakur (retd) against Congress candidate Pratibha Singh.
“BJP has given its ticket to a soldier. They gave it to a soldier just because he participated in the Kargil war. Kargil war was not a big war. It was our land that Pakistan had occupied. It (the war) was meant to remove them from our land and if someone had taken part in it and now wants to take credit that he is a big hero and has won big in the war, then it is not a good thing to project him like this. They (BJP) want that all votes of ex-servicemen are cast in his favour,” said Singh while addressing a gathering during campaigning.
She further said that the BJP will try to project this and the voters should only vote for development.
As expected, the BJP was quick to grab at the opportunity, with Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur saying that Singh’s remarks have hurt him. Addressing a public rally, Thakur said that 527 soldiers had laid down their lives for the sake of the country and the Congress leaders should avoid giving such statements.
Facing backlash from the BJP, Pratibha Singh tried to control the damage by heaping praise on the soldiers. She said that the debt of soldiers cannot be repaid in seven lives. She clarified that her statement was not for the Kargil war heroes. She claimed to have said that the war was a result of the failure of the BJP government due to which jawans were martyred.
The result for the bypolls will be declared on November 2.