Mumbai: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam on Wednesday attacked BJP even as he continued to face flak from several quarters for suggesting army's surgical strikes could be "fake" with Shiv Sena demanding sedition case be slapped against him.
His party had to call off a meeting on civic issues after panelists pulled out of it over his remarks.
Unfazed by the heat, even from within his party, Nirupam fired a fresh salvo accusing BJP of trying to extract political mileage out of the national security issue with eyes set on ensuing elections.
"BJP's political tamasha over national security is on. Raksha Mantri Parrikar to b felicitated by UP #BJP. Elections to be held there next yr(sic)," he tweeted.
Seizing on the issue, Shiv Sena called for sedition charges to be slapped on Nirupam for "doubting the integrity of the army" and asked the Congress high command to sack him immediately.
"It is surprising that he can dare question the veracity of army's operations at a time when even Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) and Vice-President (Rahul Gandhi) have made their stand very clear on this issue," Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said.
"We demand that a sedition case be slapped against Nirupam as he is only toeing the line of an enemy nation which says surgical strike never took place. He has disgraced the nation in front of world leaders," she said.
In a snub to Nirupam, members of a civil society here decided to boycott a meeting over civic issues organised by the Congress party to register their displeasure over the comments, forcing the party to cancel the event.
The party had planned a discussion on 'abduction of open spaces' in the city. No reason was given for cancellation of the event.
The civil society members, including former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, Anandini Thakur, RTI activist Bhaskar Prabhu and others decided to pull out as panelists from the event over Nirupam's remarks.
"It pains all Indians to hear an Indian national talking in such a manner and providing support to Pakistan's stand," Gandhi said in the e-mail to Nirupam.
However, Nirupam sought to know as to why defence minister Manohar Parrikar is visiting Goa, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab "where elections are very near".
"Why he is not going to Bihar? He is going to only election-bound states and being facilitated with flowers, garlands, banners and posters," Nirupam said.
"On one side Venkaiah Nadu says that there should not be discussions over the surgical strike, but his partymen and leaders are carrying out series of political campaign, that's what I am strongly criticising," he told PTI.
"The truth is that BJP is extracting political mileage over the issue of national security which no other party ever did. BJP has been involved in the politicisation of the defence activities...And being a citizen of the country, I have every right to ask these questions," he said.
BJP, however, said it don't want to attach any significance to his "slandering" remarks against the Indian Army.
"We don't consider (it necessary) to respond to a person who can go so low to sling the mud on the Indian Army for the sake of political advantage. Therefore no comments please," said Madhav Bhandari, spokesperson of the BJP.
Shiv Sena demanded the Congress remove Nirupam as their Mumbai unit chief immediately.
"Also, we demand he should be immediately ousted from his post because a person who cannot respect the army can never respect people and serve them," a Sena spokesperson said.
Reflecting the discomfiture Nirupam's comment has caused to the party ahead of the civic polls in Mumbai, Congress leader Arif Naseem Khan said he should not have used the sensitive issue for "political gains".
"All parties are one as long as the country's unity and security is concerned. Also, the Congress president and vice president have made their stand very clear on this issue. There is no reason for other party leaders like Nirupamji to take a different stand over the issue," Khan said.
"It is not right to use this sensitive issue for political gains," he said.