Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday criticised the Congress for flinging accusations at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the wake of last week’s terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama. Forty CRPF personnel died in the attack, which was carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.

In a press conference, the minister claimed the Congress was trying to weaken the morale of the country and that of the armed forces. “When the whole country is one, when country after country is passing resolutions condemning Pulwama attack and standing firmly with India, at that critical moment, the true face of Congress party has appeared, seeking to weaken the morale of the country,” he said.

The statement came hours after the Congress criticised the “misplaced priorities” of the Narendra Modi government in the wake of the terror attack in Pulwama, and claimed that for the prime minister, the “lust for power holds more importance than soldiers”. The party claimed that Modi was busy shooting for a film hours after the attack on February 14.

Calling these statements “shameful”, Prasad said Modi was at the Ramnagar forest in Uttarakhand that day for an official programme related to the conservation of tigers. “Congress may have known that the Pulwama attack was going to happen, we did not know,” he said.

“The Congress should understand that the country trusts Modi’s courage, capability and leadership,” Prasad added, claiming that the country was “safe in his hands”. He also said the Congress only knows to ask questions on surgical strikes and accuse people such as the Army chief of the country. “But it does not ask for any evidence when a man of a questionable character [alleged cyber expert Syed Shuja] in London, in the presence of Kapil Sibal, questions India’s election process,” he said. “What can we expect from them?”

Though several ministers attended the funerals of the soldiers killed last week, the government believed that development should not be stopped, Prasad said in response to allegations that no national mourning was declared, which would have stopped government events.

Congress’ allegations

“When the entire country was mourning the deaths of the jawans, Prime Minister Modi was shooting for a film at Corbett National Park and indulging in a boat ride to look at crocodiles,” the Congress claimed earlier in the day. “This film shooting went on till 6.30 pm that day. He had tea and snacks at 6.45 pm. It is horrific that till four hours after such an attack, Modi was busy with his own branding, photoshoot and snacks.”

The Congress said it was “even more painful” that the government did not declare a period of national mourning, which would have led to the cancellation of all the “political rallies and inaugurations held by Modi on government costs”. “Moreover, he reached Palam airport in Delhi to pay tributes to the jawans an hour late because he was busy with his politics in Jhansi,” the party said, referring to an event Modi addressed in the city on February 15.

At the event in Jhansi, Modi had urged people to vote for his Bharatiya Janata Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and ensure a strong government at the Centre. The pitch came hours after the BJP said it was cancelling all political events in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.

The Congress also criticised Modi’s departure for a trip to South Korea in the current situation.