Pakistan has featured prominently in Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s discourse during his campaign whirl in Gautam Budh Nagar over the last two days, as he invoked the cross-border surgical strike on terror camps in the PoK and the Centre’s tough posturing vis-a-vis the nuclear neighbour while campaigning for BJP candidates in the upcoming state elections.
And, there was no let up on the Pakistan bashing as he addressed a campaign event in the Rabupura area of Noida on Thursday.
“As I arrived in Pakistan to attend the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit, I saw some people raising slogans against me and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I could have easily cancelled my visit right then and returned home. Instead, I decided to ignore the protests, attend the summit and give a befitting reply to Pakistan,” Singh said at Rabupura on Thursday.
Addressing two rallies in Dadri and Jewar constituencies on Wednesday and Thursday in favour of candidates Tejpal Singh Nagar and Dhirendra Singh, the home minister brought up Pakistan saying his government’s assertive stance vis-a-vis the nuclear neighbour has prompted the army to respond in equal measure to cross-border attacks and ceasefire violations.
“I remember an army officer once telling me that his men had come under an unprovoked attack by militants and had since been awaiting an official permission to hit back. On that day, I told our jawans not to hold back and hit them hard. I told them not to count their bullets when it comes to protecting our borders,” Singh said on Thursday.
Singh’s half -an-hour speeches at Dadri and Jewar, too, were high on rhetoric vis-a-vis Pakistan and even had a reference to the Uri attack that left 18 soldiers dead.
“We have always tried to maintain friendly ties with Pakistan. We can choose friends, but not neighbours. The Prime Minister made his intent on fostering friendly ties with our neighbours clear when he invited the heads of state for his swearing-in ceremony. However, the Uri attack was the tipping point as we decided to send a strong message to Pakistan. Bharat kisi ko chedhta nahi hai lekin koi use chedhe toh chodhta nahi hai (India is all for peace, but if we are hit we will hit back),” Singh said.
Singh also hit out at the ruling Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party for failing in governance when in power. However, he did not spare a word on the problems faced by the people of Dadri and Jewar constituencies — damaged roads, lack of women’s safety, creaky health care, lack of electricity, education and agricultural development.
In what was a pointer to his lack of awareness on issues faced by the locals, Singh was seen in conference with the party nominees on what the farmers produce in the respective constituencies.