- After the victory in 1999, PM Vajpayee held yearly wreath-laying ceremonies on Vijay Diwas
- Bizarrely, the UPA then stopped the practice when they came to power in 2004, preferring to focus on the 1971 war
- It was only after MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar raised the issue in Parliament that the celebration was held once again from 2009
"Today is the 18th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas. As we remember and pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our brave soldiers and also the families that have lost their loved ones - father, sons, husbands and brothers - we as citizens of this nation must also take a pledge that we will be united in our support to the Armed Forces."
Stirring words by Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, which perhaps seems a bit obvious to most of us. Of course, we have to pay tribute and unite behind our armed forces.
But perhaps this is not so obvious to many others, even after a war.
Yes, you read it right. After all, on this day of Kargil Diwas, people should be reminded of a statement by Congress MP and ex-spokesperson Rashid Alvi, who had said that there was nothing to "celebrate in the Kargil Vijay Diwas" and that it was "BJP's war".
True, we are talking of one MP from the Congress here, but it is also true that he is a representative of the party that could have opposed his opinion on Kargil Diwas.
According to a report by IndiaToday, Alvi is quoted as saying, "Kargil isn't a thing to be celebrated. The war was fought within our territory. We didn't even come to know when the Pakistani army crossed over and built bunkers inside our territory. It's only the NDA which may celebrate."
There seemed to be a fear that celebrating a 'BJP victory' would somehow diminish the 'glory' of Indira Gandhi's 'victory' in the Bangladesh war of 1971. Though is a total fantasy. All sacrifices by the military are honoured - no matter who happened to be in power at the time.
If that was not shocking enough, consider the fact that the then Minister of State for Home, Sri Prakash Jaiswal, couldn't even recollect when the war took place and how many jawans were killed.
This seems to be indicative of the party's views on Kargil Diwas, reflected in its passive response to the celebrations.
After all, though the war happened in 1999, the martyrs were never celebrated by the then Congress-led government, until MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar raised it in the Parliament in July 2009.
After his constant attempts to fix a date for the Kargil victory celebrations, the then defence minister AK Antony finally reinstated the celebration of Kargil Vijay Diwas and started the practice of the Defence Minister visiting the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate. So 2009, five years after the UPA came to power, the first celebration by them was held.
Even more bizarrely, one has to remember that the event was celebrated by PM Vajpayee in his tenure, through the traditional wreath-laying at the India Gate. So when the UPA came to power, they had the precedent of the celebration - which they chose to ignore for five long years!
Why is it that even a war as intense as Kargil failed to unite Indian politics? Does that mean that the warring factions in Indian politics will never unite for collective consciousness?
Does that mean, India has to first combat the warring units of its own before battling the enemies?
Let us hope not.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:58 PM