For every Indian, 26th July is no less than a celebration. On this day, the Kargil war was officially over. No one can forget the sacrifice of Capt Vikram Batra, Lieutenant Balwan Singh, Major Vivek Gupta, Naik Digendra Kumar, Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey and Major Saurabh Kalia among many others. Even though the Pakistan army and terrorists supporting them had the benefit of altitude, the Indian Army and the Air Force had unforgettably unleashed the might.
Border tension between India and Pakistan has always been on edge for one reason or the other. After the India Pakistan war of 1971, the tension was at peak during the 90s. The terrorist activities in Kashmir caused an agitated atmosphere in the valley. In February 1999, the Lahore Declaration was signed between the two countries to defuse tensions over deputed areas of Jammu. However, Pakistan had a different plan altogether. It was training terrorists and its army men to cross the Line of Control on the high altitudes.
When India found out about the infiltration, the first assumption was they might be terrorist groups. However, the armed forces kept on learning about the infiltrations in different locations that led to the conclusion that it was a well-planned attack on a vast scale. The Government of India launched Operation Vijay, and more than 2,00,000 troops were deployed in the Valley. India lost 527 soldiers in the war. Pakistan claimed that over 3,000 of its soldiers and terrorists died in the war.
Indian Air Force played a vital role in the war. Showing its might at the height of 32,000 feet for the first time that too only after a week’s training is noteworthy. Under operation Safed Sagar, the Indian Air Force identified and eliminated Pakistani troops and terrorists to perfection. While the operation was over on 14th July 1999 and then-PM Ajal Bihari Vajpayee informed the country about it, the official declaration of the war being closed came on 26th July 1999.
While Pakistan betrayed the Lahore Declaration and attacked India after putting up a pretence of peace, another treachery, this one from within the country was being mounted. The Congress party, headed by Sonia Gandhi at the time decided to indulge in petty politics when the country was fighting a war with Pakistan.
The statements and ignorance from the Congress party since 1999 has been widely spoken about. The Vajpayee government not only had to manage the border situation at that time, but they also had to face the vicious attack by Sonia Gandhi and her party.
1. Sonia Gandhi’s call for an emergency session of Rajya Sabha
Sonia Gandhi, not to anyone surprise, was Congress President at that time. She called for an emergency session of Rajya Sabha. At that time, she said in a press conference that if Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru can call for such session during Indo-China war, why can’t she ask for one to discuss Kargil.
It was the CPI that had initiated the demands for a special Rajya Sabha session in an attempt to paint the Vajpayee government as incompetent, even though the country was in the midst of a war. When the CPI had called for the special session, Congress was skeptical fearing that the request could appear to be motivated so soon after the outbreak of hostilities, reported India Today at the time. However, soon Sonia Gandhi, joined the bandwagon and launched a scathing, traitorous attack against the Government of India.
She further added, “We cannot leave the fate of the country in the hands of an incompetent caretaker government and hence we have demanded a special session of the Rajya Sabha.” Not only Congress, but other opposition parties like CPI tried to corner Vajpayee government over Kargil while the war was still on.
Further, it was Digvijay Singh and Ashok Gehlot, according to a 1999 India Today report who were pressing for a special session and trying to convince all opposition parties.
Casting shameless aspersions against the Vajpayee government, Digvijay made his party’s intention clear when he said, at the meeting that a Rajya Sabha session was necessary to probe if the Union government knew for a “long time about the infiltration and yet had kept quiet”.
2. The infamous “defence expert” views in The Guardian
Kanchan Gupta wrote an article in 1999 in which he explained how the Congress party took refuge under the international media. They used an article published in the Guardian during the Kargil war that had the whole scenario and the Army’s preparations wrong. In the article, it was stated that in the lack of weapons and ammunition, the army stood handicapped in Kargil.
Later, it was found that the report in the Guardian was the handiwork of a frustrated arms dealer who came to India amidst war to sell his weapons. What he failed to factor in that the Italian mastermind behind the Bofors scandal is no longer facilitating Indian weapon purchases and the thing went south quickly for him. Congress Party used a particular article to attack the government but failed miserably in this attempt as well.
3. No recognition of the war heroes for years
For years, since the Congress government came to power in 2004, the party refused to celebrate Kargil war heroes. In 2017, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, BJP MP posted a tweet in which he shared a letter dated July 2009 asking Congress party in power to remember the sacrifices of the soldiers during Kargil War.
In the letter, he reminded the Congress Party about the sacrifices of the soldiers. He said, “I believe the actions of the men and women of our armed forces in that conflict and every other conflict deserve out shradhanjali, respects and salutes. I appeal to the Ministry of Defense and Government to memorialize this day and celebrate it every year.”
4. Congress MP Rashid Alvi: Kargil was BJP’s war, no need to celebrate victory
MP Rashid Alvi, in 2009, said that there is no reason India should celebrate Kargil Vijay Diwas as it was fought in our territory. Only NDA may celebrate it as it was its war (and not India’s). The attitude of the Congress government towards the fallen soldiers was painful not only for the families of the soldiers but also for every patriotic Indian.
5. Congress’ former MoS Home could not even remember when Kargil was fought
At the time when Congress MP Rashid Alvi said that the Kargil war was an “NDA war” to celebrate and that there was no need for Congress to celebrate, former minister of state for home Sri Prakash Jaiswal couldn’t even remember when the Kargil war was fought and won. Asked about Vijay Diwas, he wanted to know when the day was celebrated.
6. Siddaramaiah government’s apathy towards Kargil war hero
Congress, on several occasions, on the national and state level, failed to recognize the war heroes. In 2018, then-Karnataka government led by Congress and its associates under CM Siddaramaiah failed to recognize the importance of a Kargil war hero. Col MB Ravindranath took his last breath at the age of 59 in Bangalore. The then Commanding Officer of 2 Rajputana Rifles, Col Ravindranath was famously known for taking back the Tololing Top from the Pakistani aggressors during the 1999 Kargil war. The government of India awarded him Vir Chakra.
Siddaramaiah government’s apathy over his death miffed everyone. While his government provided full state honours to late journalist Gauri Lankesh during her funeral, not even a single government official came for Col Ravindranath’s funeral.
While the Congress party today talks about defence-related issues and attempts to bring the Modi government down, its history has been shady when it comes to times when the country needed them.