In a damning interview, Sam Pitroda, the chief of Indian Overseas Congress and a close confidant of Rahul Gandhi, said “attacks happen all the time” and that it was wrong to blame Pakistan for the Pulwama terror attack.
He retracted the statement shortly after following a major outrage.
In an interview to ANI, Pitroda questioned the death toll in the Balakot airstrike that was conducted by the Indian Air Force in Pakistan in response to the Pulwama terror attack.
“If they (IAF) killed 300, it’s ok. All I am saying is can you give me more facts and prove it,” he said.
While the strikes were celebrated in India, some international news outlets had raised doubts over their effectiveness after Pakistan admitted the entry of IAF planes but denied the presence of or attack on any terror outfits.
Pitroda said in wake of the alternate view, people deserved to know more about the operation.
“I would like to know a little more because I read reports in the New York Times and other newspapers. Did we really attack? We really killed 300 people? I don’t know that. As a citizen, I am entitled to know and if I ask it is my duty to ask, that doesn’t mean I’m not a nationalist, That doesn’t mean I am on this side or that side. We need to know the facts. If you say 300 people were killed, I need to know that. We all need to know that, people of India need to know that and then comes global media which says nobody was killed. I look bad as an Indian citizen,” Pitroda said.
The senior ideologue of the party also sought a dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the issue. When asked if talks were an option after the attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were martyred, Pitroda said it was wrong to blame the entire nation for it.
“I don’t know much about (Pulwama) attack, it happens all the time, attack happen in Mumbai Taj hotel and Oberoi hotel. We could have reacted then and sent our planes but that is not the right approach according to me that’s not how you deal with the World. Eight people come (referring to Mumbai 26/11 attacks) and do something, you don’t jump on the entire nation,” he said.
#WATCH Sam Pitroda,Indian Overseas Congress Chief, says, “8 people(26/11 terrorists) come&do something, you don’t jump on entire nation(Pakistan).Naive to assume that just because some people came &attacked,every citizen of that nation is to be blamed.I don’t believe in that way” pic.twitter.com/K66Ds4p3ke
— ANI (@ANI) March 22, 2019
While demanding proof about the 300 deaths during Indian Air Force’s Balakot air strikes, Pitroda clarified that he believed in data over emotions and was seeking proof as an individual and not on behalf of the party.
The interview went viral within minutes of publishing, with Pitroda’s remarks drawing sharp criticism from netizens and the opposition BJP.
While some called out the advisor for trivialising the attack and doubting the armed forces, others took a jibe over his pro-Pakistan stance, something the Congress has been repeatedly accused of.
“Rahul Gandhi’s advisor Sam Pitroda criticises surgical strike by IAF on Balakot. Manmohan’s refusal to avenge 26/11 with surgical strikes wasn’t an aberration. That’s their policy. These people care more about Pakistani terrorists than Indian soldiers,” tweeted one user
Senior BJP leaders were also quick to respond to the statement.
“He believes what we did was wrong. No country in the world said this, not even the OIC(Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) said this, only Pakistan was of this view. Unfortunate such people are ideologues of a political party,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
“Shame on the @INCIndia. Top Congress leader & Rahul Gandhi’s Chief Advisor Sam Pitroda on one hand handing out clean chit to Pakistan, while on the other blames Modi Government & India for the Air Strikes! Astonishing attempt by the Congress to separate Terror from Pakistan,” tweeted BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
Following the outrage, especially in wake of the impending Lok Sabha Polls, Pitroda clarified his stance in a follow-up interview.
“I just said as a citizen I am entitled to know what happened. I am not talking on behalf of party, just speaking as a citizen. I have right to know, what is wrong in it?” he told ANI.
“I don’t understand what is the controversy here, I am baffled at the response. Shows how people react to trivial matters in India. It is a totally trivial matter. A citizen is just asking a question,” the Indian Overseas Congress Chief added.
#WATCH Sam Pitroda,Indian Overseas Congress Chief on his earlier remark on #airstrike,says,”I just said as a citizen I’m entitled to know what happened.I don’t understand what is the controversy here,I am baffled at the response.Shows how people react to trivial matters in India” pic.twitter.com/WlS2t0Lymi
— ANI (@ANI) March 22, 2019
Congress also distanced itself from the controversy, citing that the Pitroda’s views were personal and did not reflect the views of the party.
Unfortunately for the senior advisor, his “this shows how people react to trivial matters in India” remark did not go down well with most and the clarification seems to have only made matters worse for the Congress and its party President Rahul Gandhi, which is facing an uphill task in the upcoming polls.Back to latest news