New Delhi: Assailing the Centre over handling of Pathankot terror attack, Congress on Monday said terror and talks cannot go side by side and took potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over "conflicting" statements on the incident, alleging it showed the "breakdown of institutional mechanism".
Leading the party's charge, Congress President Sonia Gandhi termed the internal security situation as "serious" and hoped that Centre was taking all necessary steps to neutralize terror threats.
Latching on to Home Minister Rajnath Singh's remarks on the incident, Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken went hammer and tongs against the government alleging that institutional mechanism stands "demolished" and sections in government are "completely in dark" as Modi has "concentrated" all powers in his hands.
"Institutions are functioning in isolation and not in tandem, which is scary. Even the Home Minister is not aware how many terrorists were neutralised. The Home Minister does not even know that whether the operation is yet over or not. After Home Minister says that the operation is over, the Home Secretary says it is continuing.
"If even the Home Minister does know what has happened, it only points to the extent of the breakdown of institutional mechanism in this government," he said.
Insisting that Pakistan's hand was evident in the Pathankot incident, Maken said, "Talks and terror cannot go side by side. Government has to come out openly to tell the very facts. We have always been of the view that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand."
He, however, evaded a direct reply on whether the proposed foreign secretary level talks between the two countries should continue or not. The talks are scheduled for January 14 and 15.
Alleging that there is a lack of command and control structure within the government to deal with, take control of and direct elimination of the terror attack like the one at Pathankot Air Force base, Maken said even as the process of neutralization continued with security forces fighting valiantly, Prime Minister Modi, was propagating yoga at a gathering in Karnataka.
"Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar was preoccupied in his home state of Goa, as always. A usually out of loop Home Minister Rajnath Singh first declared the operation to flush out terrorist successful through a tweet and said that 5 terrorists have been killed.
After being contradicted by his Home Secretary, he shockingly deleted his own tweet.
"External Affairs Ministers, Sushma Swaraj, in the meanwhile, calls a meeting of ex-envoys. Complete disharmony and disjointed responses by those responsible for providing leadership in this time of a serious terror attack speaks volumes about the political leadership as also command and control structures within the Government," he said.
Maken told reporters that this was happening because the Prime Minister is trying to do everything from PMO and and even concerned ministers "are not being kept in the loop".
Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad attacked the NDA government over what he called "flip-flops" and "weak-kneed Pakistan policy" in the wake of Pathankot terror strike and suggested that the Centre should revisit its policy towards Islamabad.
"Though the time is not opportune to comment on the flip-flops and weak-kneed Pakistan policy of the NDA government, as our security forces are battling the terrorist assault at Pathankot airbase launched by anti-India forces from across the border, there remains a dire need to revisit the 'wishy washy' and 'consistently inconsistent' Pakistan policy being pursued by the NDA government," Azad said in a press statement.
Maken reminded the Prime Minister that in the midst of 26/11 terror attack he had visited Mumbai when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat and even held a press conference criticizing the Congress government.
Asking why cannot the same Prime Minister now take control of the situation in Pathankot instead of "shying away" from defining terrorists.
Maken also raised questions over the "silence" of the government on Pakistan's role in the attack.