Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday refuted the Congress’ claims that six surgical strikes were carried out to strike terror hideouts during the tenure of the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Soon, a war of words ensued, with the Congress alleging that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to reap electoral benefit from the issue, adding that questioning the air strikes amounted to questioning the armed forces.
Speaking at a public meeting in Sikar, Rajasthan, Modi said if indeed the surgical strikes were carried out, why was it that the people of the country were not aware of it. “Congress has come up with a new drama. Congress is desperately trying to prove that it carried out surgical strikes. What kind of surgical strikes are these? Terrorists did not get to know about these surgical strikes, Pakistan did not know, people who carried out do not know and even the people of the country do not know of it. First, the Congress criticized surgical strikes, and now they claim that they have also done it. Congress can only do surgical strikes on paper," Modi added.
The Prime Minister said that when the Congress criticized the surgical strikes and demanded proof of the operation, the masses came out to support the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). “By the time counting of votes happen, Congress leaders will claim that they had carried out 600 surgical strikes. When surgical strikes have to be claimed on paper, then how does it matter?" In response to Modi’s jibes, senior Congress leader, Ahmed Patel, told news agency ANI: “They wish to win elections anyhow. We never took credit, whether it was the air strikes or Bangladesh war, credit must go to the forces. It’s not Congress’ insult, it’s an insult to the jawans."
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, in a recent interview to Hindustan Times newspaper, claimed that several surgical strikes were carried out by India against terrorist targets when the Congress-led UPA was in power.
The ruling BJP has made national security, surgical strikes and air strikes in Balakot an election issue and has claimed that it can protect the country from acts of terrorism. Modi also alleged UPA allowed India’s share of river waters to flow into Pakistan.
“We are confident that people will again choose a strong government this time. Water that was being allowed to flow to Pakistan will reach the fields of farmers. The government will work to end terrorism and Maoists."
“Congress disrespects those who protect the country. Congress leaders called the Army chief a goon and Air Force chief a liar. Congress wants proof of dead terrorists, it does not have faith in the bravery of our soldiers. Congress has closed its eyes on the bravery of our soldiers," Modi added.
*PTI contributed to the story.