New Delhi: Twenty-one opposition parties Wednesday expressed anguish over what they alleged was "blatant politicisation" of the sacrifices of armed forces and urged the government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India's sovereignty, unity and integrity.
After a meeting, which lasted over three hours, in the Parliament Library, the leaders of these parties issued a joint statement, expressing concern over the prevailing security situation in the country.
"Anguished over blatant politicisation of sacrifices of armed forces by ruling party. Urge government to take the nation into confidence on all measures to protect India's sovereignty, unity, integrity.
"National security must transcend narrow political consideration," the joint statement said.
The parties also condemned the "dastardly" Pulwama terror attack by "Pakistan-sponsored" terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14. The leaders paid homage to the soldiers killed in the attack and expressed solidarity with the Armed Forces.
The statement also said that the prime minister has "regrettably" not convened an all-party meeting as per established practice.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress leaders A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel; Sharad Pawar (NCP); Chandrababu Naidu (TDP); Mamata Banerjee (TMC); Sharad Yadav (LJD); T Shiva (DMK); Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M);Satish Chandra Misra (BSP); Manoj Jha(RJD); Sanjay Singh (AAP); Sudhakar Reddy (CPI); Danish Ali (JD-S); Shibu Soren(JMM); Upendra Kushwaha (RLSP); Ashok Kumar Singh (JVM); Jitin Ram Manjhi (HAM); Kodandaram (TJS) among others participated in the meeting.
In the joint statement, the parties lauded the Indian Air Force's strike on the terrorist camp on February 26 but also expressed concern on the emerging security situation.
"Post the statement from the MEA regarding targeting of our military installations and loss of one fighter aircraft, the leaders condemned the Pakistani misadventure and expressed their deep concern for the safety of our missing pilot," Rahul Gandhi said while reading out the statement.
The Samajwadi Party did not attend the meeting. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also skipped the meeting. In a tweet, he said he had "requested the opposition to postpone the meeting in light of the developments, especially after the news of our pilot being in Pakistani custody but they felt otherwise. I chose not to attend as a result".
The Opposition on Tuesday had decided to drop the formulation of the common minimum programme as the agenda for their meeting on Wednesday in view of the prevailing security situation in the country.
Senior leaders in the opposition confirmed that in a discussion with the Congress, the CPI(M) and the CPI said that they will only be part of the meeting if the common minimum programme is off the table.
With the change in agenda, Left parties joined the meeting. It was after the February 13 meeting of opposition leaders, the decision to formulate a common minimum programme was mooted, which would act as a roadmap to fight the Lok Sabha elections against the BJP.