SILIGURI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday accused the Congress of conspiring to put the lives of soldiers at risk by promising to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).
Modi said the Congress was planning to "tie the hands" of the Army in front of the terrorists and stone-pelters in Jammu and Kashmir and other terror prone areas in the country with its AFSPA promise listed in the Lok Sabha election manifesto.
The 2019 elections were a question of protecting the honour of the armed forces, he told an election rally here.
"Yesterday the Congress released a 'patra' (manifesto) where they have tried to break down the confidence of the armed forces. The Congress has said they will remove AFSPA from Kashmir and other places. They are conspiring to tie the hands of our armed forces in front of the terrorists and stone-pelters," Modi said.
"Thousands of people from Darjeeling and rest of West Bengal work to protect the country in such areas. AFSPA is like a shield for the armed forces so that they can combat the terrorists in a proper way. But these people do not have faith on our soldiers... That is why they are daring to make such promises," he said.
Terming the erstwhile UPA government a "remote controlled" one which did not act against terror, Modi claimed he was now standing like a "wall" between the terrorists and the people.
"All you have to do is to come together to stop the conspiracy of putting the lives of our soldiers at risk. Your votes are not just necessary for making the BJP win or re-electing Modi as Prime Minister but are also needed to protect the respect of our armed forces.
"It is clear what kind of government they want. When the UPA's remote controlled government was in power in Delhi, there had been a number of terrorist attacks but they never gave a free hand to our Army."
Criticizing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other leaders of the opposition who he said raised questions over the success of the Balakot air strike after the Pulwama terror attack, the Prime Minister said that these leaders appeared more hurt than Pakistan for giving the Indian Army a free hand.
"I gave a free hand to our Army. Do you agree with this decision? When our forces killed the terrorists in Balakot, did you feel happy or not? Did your heads go up in pride or not?" Modi asked, and the crowds responded with a thunderous 'yes'.
"But Didi did not like it and neither did her allies... All these grand (leaders) cried so much after the air strike that they became hero in Pakistan."
Taking a swipe at Banerjee for seeking proof regarding the number of terrorists killed in Balakot, Modi said it seemed the Bengal Chief Minister "felt more pain than those in Islamabad, Rawalpindi or Karachi".