Parrikar dismisses Congress’s surgical strike claim, credits PM (Roundup)

Mumbai, Oct 12 (IANS) Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday dismissed the Congress’s claims of having carried out cross-border forays during its regime, even as he credited the September 29 surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) to all Indians and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Defence Minister, speaking at an event here, said he would also get some of the credit for being decisive.

“To my knowledge, there were no surgical strikes carried out in the past. Those action can at the best be called as ‘covert operations’ where the action was taken first and the government was informed later. But the September 29 strikes were a result of a government decision,” Parrikar said on Wednesday at an event hosted by the Forum for Integrated National Security in Mumbai.

The Minister said claims by the Congress of having conducted strikes were being made now, and not when the purported strikes took place.

“Some of them may be true, some of them may be exaggerated. The number may increase to two-three dozen during elections… the old cases,” he said.

The Congress has said surgical strikes were conducted thrice during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule.

At another event, Parrikar said he did not mind sharing the credit, and the 127 crore Indians, including the “doubting Thomases” can share the credit.

He, however, added: “A major share of the credit goes to the Prime Minister.”

“For myself, I would only share the credit, at the most, the major share goes to the Prime Minister but the issue, I will at least claim the credit for, is decision-making ability and planning.”

Parrikar also said that the September 29 operation was carried out by the Indian Army and not a political party.

“I think that should settle the nerves of many people I understand quite well, because I am a politician… I understand peoples’ sentiments are satisfied and when population is satisfied, ‘Wo khuda jaisa hi hota hai, chhappar phad ke deta hai’ (they are like gods, they give in abundance),” he said.

“The satisfaction of 30 years of boiling within and the steam that had accumulated was vented on September 29.”

At the same time, he also made it clear that it was a “single one-time operation”.

The Minister said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, since coming to power, has cleared defence proposals worth Rs 2,50,000 crore.

“…in coming months and coming years, capabilities (will be) improved to a level where no one can take us lightly,” the Defence Minister said.

A war of words has erupted over the politicisation of the surgical strikes on the intervening night of September 28-29, following a terrorist attack at an Army camp in Uri in which 19 soldiers were killed.

The Opposition has accused the government of trying to capitalise on the Indian Army’s action for electoral gains.

On Wednesday, a fresh attack was launched against the government.

“Clearly, the BJP is trying to exploit the surgical strikes as an electoral strategy and it has complete disregard for army sentiments or the truth itself,” Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha told IANS.

“Parrikar claimed that the Modi government had ‘made the army realise its prowess and strength’ for the first time. Amit Shah lied to the nation and disgracefully undermined the sacrifice of our armed forces by proclaiming that ‘Army has crossed the LoC for the first time in 68 years’ under the Modi Government,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

In poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Chief Mayawati said the government was doing “natak baaji” (drama) around the surgical strikes in a bid to divert the people’s attention from their problems.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Dilip Pandey said: “If you (Parrikar) ignore the Indian Army’s history, and instead praise yourself and the Prime Minister for the army’s feats, there can be no other example of abuse of its accomplishments.”