New Delhi They hold divergent views on everything — due to political ideologies as well as electoral compulsions. But on Saturday, after years, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) converged on the issue of attack on the Nankana Saheb, some 75 km west of Lahore in Pakistan, and protested — separately — at the Pakistan High Commission, here.
While the Delhi wing and the Youth Congress led the charge for the Congress, the Sikh Cell of the BJP represented the party.
The two parties agree to disagree on everything — be it the goods and services tax (GST), mooted by the Congress and implemented by the BJP, or Aadhar, piloted by the Congress and sharply opposed by the BJP only to become its staunch defender after coming to power.
The change of role, dictated by the voters, made Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to call the GST the “Gabbar Singh Tax”.
Even on the national security issues like the Balakot strike, they preferred to stick to their orthodox traditional role of a ruling party and an opposition party.
As India was mourning the loss of troopers in a Pakistan-sponsored suicide attack in Pulwama, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala floated a conspiracy theory asking how the terrorists acquired that huge amount of RDX and rocket launchers.
On the India’s retaliation, when IAF jets hit deep inside Pakistan’s Balakot to destroy militant camps, Sam Pitroda’s, a Gandhi loyalist, statement that air strikes on the Jaish terror camp in Balakot were “not the right approach” proved that they would continue to be divided.
However, on Saturday supporters of both the BJP and the Congress raised the same anti-Pakistan slogans. “Imran Khan hosh me ayo (Imran Khan, come to your senses)”. They held similar placards — “Pakistan Murdabad” (Down with Pakistan).
Subhash Chopra, Delhi Congress chief, wore a black turban in solidarity with Sikhs. Amrish Ranjan Pandey, IYC media in-charge, said, “Pakistan and its government seem to be failing in their duties of providing protection to pilgrims and religious sites.”
Soon the BJP held a press conference where its national secretary R.P. Singh, himself a Sikh, complained, “on Friday, stones were thrown at the Nankana Sahib and slogans, calling to throw Sikhs out of Pakistan and send them to India, were raised. The Pakistan government didn’t act for 13 hours.”
After the protest the Youth Congress and the BJP Sikh Cell activists went back. Some of them were also detained only to be released later.
However, it was a rare occasion in Indian politics that the Treasury and the Opposition benches spoke the same language, raised similar slogans and made comparable demands — not in Parliament but in the streets.
The Nankana Sahib brought the two parties on the same page what the GST, Pulwama or even Balakot actions couldn’t.