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Is BJP's criticism of Obama a publicity stunt?

November 06, 2010 21:57 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday criticised United States President Barack Obama's speech at the 26/11 memorial at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, for not mentioning Pakistan as the perpetrator of the terror attacks in 2008, which had targeted the luxurious hotel.

BJP's national spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy had termed Obama's speech a disappointment, claiming that by omitting to name Pakistan, he had missed an opportunity to strike a chord with the people of India. 

Some political spectators and commentators saw BJP's stance on the speech as a publicity stunt, others felt that Pakistan's role in the terror attacks, which has been clearly established, should have been mentioned by Obama when he stated that the "perpetrators should be brought to justice". 

"Hotel Taj was the target of India's biggest terror attack. For the American President to actually stay there in itself is a symbolic act. His state visit has not even begun officially and the BJP has already raised an issue. This is largely a publicity stunt as both the Congress and the BJP know that Obama cannot issue a public statement against Pakistan while in India," said a senior journalist and political commentator. 

Former minister for external affairs Natwar Singh was of the opinion that Obama and the US administration has to maintain diplomatic relations with both India and Pakistan. It is not possible for the US President to actually come out and say anything against Pakistan, said Singh.

"The US needs to maintain good diplomatic relations with Pakistan because they are stuck in Afghanistan. I am sure (Prime Minister)Manmohanji (Singh) will raise the issue of Pakistan in his private meeting with Obama. But he cannot be expected to make the details of these talks public," Singh told rediff.com.

Political analyst and columnist Neerja Chowdhury termed Obama's speech as 'gracious'.

"It is curious that the BJP issued this particular statement after about half an hour of Obama's speech. It can only mean that they were expecting something like this from Obama. Having said that, by issuing this statement, the BJP has only represented the opinion of a section of the people in India, who believe that the issue of Pakistan sponsored terrorism should be brought up. As far as Indians are concerned, a lot of terrorism on Indian soil is Pakistan sponsored; even Pakistan has admitted to this," Chowdhury said. 

 Chowdhury also said that Obama's stay at Taj Mahal Hotel is very symbolic. 

"His show of solidarity to India to fight terror together is also laudable. As far as the US is concerned, however, they do need Pakistan for Afghanistan," she added. 

Sahim Salim