20/02/2019 6:26 PM IST

Congress Slams Modi Over 'Grand Welcome' To Saudi Crown Prince

Congress urged Modi to “show courage” and ask Saudi Arabia to undo its joint statement with Pakistan.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

NEW DELHI — Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for receiving Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the airport, the Congress on Wednesday asked whether according a grand welcome to “those who praised” Pakistan’s “anti-terror efforts” was his way of remembering the martyrs of the Pulwama attack.

In a special gesture, the prime minister received the Saudi crown prince at Palam airport on Tuesday night. The visit comes five days after a suicide bomber belonging to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) group killed 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir.

“National interests V/S Modiji’s ‘hugplomacy’.

“Breaking protocol, grand welcome to those who pledged $20 billion to Pakistan and praised Pakistan’s ‘anti-terror’ efforts. Is it ur way of remembering martyrs of Pulwama?” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter.

The Congress spokesperson was referring to the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan, during which the two countries signed investments agreements worth $20 billion.

Surjewala also tagged photographs of Modi hugging the crown prince and sharing a laugh at the Palam airport.

He urged Modi to “show courage” and ask Saudi Arabia to undo its joint statement with Pakistan, in which they called for avoiding “politicisation” of the UN listing regime at a time when India was stepping up efforts to brand JeM chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

“Modiji, Is asking for a terrorist to be designated as such politicisation of UN listings? Would you show courage to ask Saudi Arabia to undo their ‘Joint Statement’ with Pak virtually rejecting India’s demand for designating Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’?” he said.

After being received at the Islamabad airport by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Saudi leader said in a Saudi-Pak joint statement that dialogue was the only way to resolve “outstanding issues” between India and Pakistan.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma tweeted, “PM Modi seems to be eager to compete with and emulate the Pakistan PM Imran Khan in breaking protocol and receiving Saudi Crown Prince... without any need or justification”.

“Worse, the joint statement does not refer to the ban on either Jaish or Masood Azhar,” he said.

Sharma added, “The fact that the Crown Prince has visited Pakistan after the dastardly attack and refused to endorse the ban on Masood Azhar and the declaration of Jaish E Mohammed as a terrorist organisation seems to have been lost on the Prime Minister.”

He called it a “glaring diplomatic failure” for which Modi must answer to the nation.