New Delhi: Amid escalating India-Pakistan tensions, the opposition on Wednesday collectively flayed the ruling BJP for "blatant politicisation" of the armed forces' sacrifices and hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not convening an all-party meeting.
On a day when India shot down a Pakistani jet and lost one of its MiG-21 jets, 21 opposition parties met here and expressed their concerns over the emerging security situation.
Attended by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, the meeting followed the capture of an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot by Pakistan and the downing of a Pakistani aircraft by India -- events arising from the IAF bombing of the Jaish-e-Mohammed's (JeM) biggest training camp at Balakot in Pakistan.
The parties in a joint statement said that national security transcends "narrow political considerations.
"The 21 parties expressed their deep anguish over the blatant politicisation of the sacrifices made by our armed forces by leaders of the ruling party.
"National security must transcend narrow political considerations," said Gandhi while reading out the statement to the media.
At the meeting, the parties attacked Modi and BJP President Amit Shah for "using" the IAF action to build a narrative for the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
After the air strike in Pakistan, Modi told a rally in Rajasthan that India was in safe hands while Shah declared Modi was the "only world leader" with strong determination and zero tolerance policy against terrorism.
"Modi and Shah have been shamelessly using the sacrifices of our armed forces for their narrow political considerations," said Yechury.
Referring to the government confirming targeting of Indian military installations and loss of one fighter aircraft, the leaders condemned the Pakistani misadventure.
They expressed deep concern for the safety of the missing pilot.
The parties also pointed to Modi's interaction with party workers scheduled for Thursday that has been billed by the BJP to be the "world's biggest video conference."
"When the country is worried about the well-being of the missing pilot, the Prime Minister and the BJP are more concerned about politics," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
The Congress has postponed its Working Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday and a rally in Gujarat that was to be addressed by Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi.
The opposition parties also criticised Modi for not convening an-all party meeting and instead deputing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to inform them about the IAF's action in Pakistan.
The leaders urged the Modi government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India's sovereignty, unity and integrity.
Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Sharad Yadav and T. Shiva (DMK) were among those who attended the meeting at the Parliament complex.