New Delhi: Even though the two Italian marines retuned to India on Friday evening to face trial for killing two Indian fishermen last year while on anti-pirate duty, the issue triggered a war of words between Congress and the BJP on taking credit for the development.
The duel betweenthe two parties erupted shortly after the Italian government announced that the two marines facing trial for killing two Indian fishermen would arrive in India today.
As soon as the news of Italian marines' return came in, the Congress went into self-praise mode, but the BJP too wanted to have its share.
On Thursday night, Minister of State for Home RPN Singh tweeted, "India's tough stand as articulated by the PM and Sonia Gandhi has worked."
And on Friday, he said: "The government and the SC worked together and this is a fallout of it...The opposition should congratulate the government".
Speaking to reporters this morning, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, "Diplomacy has worked where many experts had it written off". The minister will share developments taken place between the two nations in Parliament today.
The BJP, however, said that the Italian marines' return was a result of combined efforts of the Opposition, the Supreme Court and the government. "Must say the combined effort of the Opposition to persuade the government to carry on its diplomacy seems to have worked. The tough stand taken by the Supreme Court also had its impact," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
However, Congress was quick to reject the BJP's stance. "The BJP has got nothing to do with this. It is the tough stand of the govt that has worked," said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Rajeev Shukla.
Congress’ Lok Sabha member and chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) PC Chacko also hailed the return of the two marines as "a complete success for Indian diplomacy & credit also goes to SC".
The marines -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- had been allowed by the court on February 22 to leave India to vote in Italian national elections, with the promise that they would return in four weeks to face trial.
Italy's refusal to send back the two marines had caused a political storm in India with opposition parties slamming the government for its handling of the issue.
The Italian marines were on anti-pirate duty aboard cargo ship Enrica Lexie off India's coast in Kerala last year in February when they shot the two fishermen, mistaking them to be pirates.
Italy insists the shooting happened in international waters and New Delhi does not have jurisdiction over the matter.
With Agency inputs
First Published: Friday, March 22, 2013, 11:20