Under severe attack from the opposition over Pakistan's incessant cross-border firing , Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday hit out at his critics saying they were "demoralising" the security forces.
"Such an issue should not be part of a political debate. Elections will come and go, but please don't demoralise those fighting on the border by debating these things," Modi said during his campaign speech at Baramati, the political turf of NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
"Don't use words that will discourage the soldiers fighting on the border," he said in response to criticism from the Congress, the NCP and his former ally, the Shiv Sena.
Targeting Pawar, who had criticised him for holding poll rallies in Maharashtra when there was tension on the border, Modi said, "When you were the defence minister, there were problems with Pakistan and China on the border. Did you ever bother to go to the border then?"
Praising security forces for responding to Pakistan's aggression, Modi said, "Today, when bullets are being fired on the border, it is the enemy that is screaming. Our jawans have responded to the aggression with courage."
Modi's counter-attack came on a day the Congress called him an absentee PM, questioning his absence in Delhi and his engagement in state election campaigns at such a crucial time.
The party also hit back at defence minister Arun Jaitley for his statement that opposition's criticism was "ill-informed", saying that they had not been taken into confidence over the matter and that it was the PM and his government that were acting "irresponsibly" on the issue.
Calling the PM a "control freak", Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said, "when we have such a serious issue at our borders, we should not have an absentee Prime Minister."
"Prime Minister is a control freak. He wants to be everywhere... Whether by design or default the Prime Minister has been absent during crucial period. He has been busy pretending to be Chief Minister face for every state be it Maharashtra or Haryana," Sharma said.