The army deserves full credit for last month’s surgical strikes on militant shelters across the Line of Control with Pakistan but the government must also be cheered for taking the bold decision, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Wednesday.
Parrikar’s comments came a day after HT reported that he was set to become the BJP’s star campaigner for next year’s elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the party wants to showcase the government’s “decisiveness” in hitting militants inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.
The defence minister also said India did not carry out any surgical strikes in the past, refuting claims by the Congress that its governments had ordered such precision attacks but never made those public to claim credit.
“What probably they are quoting are actions taken by border action teams, which is a common practice across globe including the Indian Army,” Parrikar said at a city event, adding such covert operations were not ordered by the government.
Earlier in the day, he set off a storm of protest from opposition groups by suggesting that, while the army deserved praise for the September 29 strikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should get most of the credit for ordering the attack, and he himself should get some of it.
“I don’t mind sharing the credit, including on surgical strike, with every countryman because it is done by our armed forces and not by any political party.
“We in the government and I personally as the defence minister are happy to share the credit with the army, the 127 crore citizens and also those doubting Thomases,” he said at another function.
His comments come amid opposition claims that the government was trying to leverage the military action for political gains in states going to elections early next year, prompting Modi to ask his ministers and party leaders to desist from chest-thumping .
The Congress was quick to hit back, with spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala saying the BJP “publicly devalued the sacrifices” of armed forces and tried to make political capital out of it.
Parrikar also said surgical strikes might not be India’s only response to terrorist attacks in future but did not elaborate.
“Unpredictability is the key weapon,” he said, a day after Modi told a public rally in Lucknow that India doesn’t like war but sometimes it become inevitable.
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