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July 1, 1999
Congress sees political plot in Kargil operations
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The Opposition led by the Congress suspects that the campaign to evict the Pakistani intruders from Kargil is being deliberately delayed so that the ruling coalition can gain political mileage at election time.
A senior Congress general secretary told rediff.com today that the Opposition had reason to believe that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government is going slow on the eviction drive in the quest for electoral benefits.
He pointed out that the government had conveniently swept under the carpet all the queries of the Opposition as to why it [the government] had failed to make a proper intelligence assessment and had allowed the Pakistanis to sneak into Indian territory in an act amounting to armed aggression.
He stressed that this was why the Opposition had been demanding that the Rajya Sabha be convened to discuss the conflict.
It is understood that in separate meetings with President K R Narayanan, various Opposition parties, including the Congress, have voiced concern about the "slow eviction process".
Asked to explain how the ruling coalition could possibly get electoral mileage from the Kargil conflict, the senior Congress official said his party had information that the Vajpayee government is gearing up to launch a big assault on the intruders near Independence Day. This is being planned so that people are influenced to vote for the government in the election that is to follow in September, he alleged.
The Opposition parties have demanded to know how the intruders were able to occupy Indian positions in Kargil when the government has been making tall claims about the efficacy of India's satellite and air surveillance.
They have also asked the government to clarify why such laxity prevailed in vital security matters.
The Congress general secretary said they would not rest until the Vajpayee government had explained its "failures" in this matter.
Meanwhile, senior officials in the external affairs ministry said India has politely turned down the offer of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to mediate on the Kargil conflict.
They said the government told Mubarak that the conflict is a bilateral matter and New Delhi does not appreciate any offers for mediation.
Significantly, Mubarak had successfully mediated between the countries in 1987 when they were on the verge of war. He had offered his good offices to Rajiv Gandhi and General Zia-ul-Haq, following which the Pakistani president had visited New Delhi and Jaipur in his famous 'cricket diplomacy' tour.
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