MUMBAI: While rejecting the claims that the Army had carried out surgical strikes in the past as well, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said the credit for the latest cross-border raids did go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government, provoking a counter-offensive from the Congress.
The previous cross-border operations were undertaken by BSF teams at the local level “without the knowledge” of the government, the minister said. “People who claim of earlier surgical strikes might have been referring to localised actions by BSF commanders. In my knowledge as a defence minister, there had never been such a decision at the government’s level,” he said.
“I don’t mind sharing credit, including on surgical strike, with every countryman because it is done by our armed forces and not by any political party. So all Indians, including, those doubting Thomases, can share the credit,” he said.“Pakistan was given several opportunities to build relations. But, the response was not forthcoming. It had turned into a predictable pattern which has been broken by the surgical strikes,” he said, adding the major impact the surgical strikes had made is on the psyche of the enemy.
While describing the challenges he faced as defence minister, he blamed his predecessor A K Antony, without naming him, for the delay in the procurement of defence equipment, including the Rafael aircraft.
Parrikar’s remarks drew stinging criticism from the Congress, which called them “misleading” and said by rejecting the claim that such strikes had taken place in the past, the minister had “undermined” the sacrifices made by the Army. “Operation Ginger in 2011 was a large-scale surgical strike.
Why is Manohar Parrikar quiet on army’s valour? Is (it) not blatant politicisation?” Congress spokespersonRandeep Surjewala asked and demanded an apology from the minister. “Converting national security into an event management exercise to polish the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is extremely unfortunate,” he said.“If the Army deserves full credit, why are ‘avengers of Uri’ posters depicting Modiji as Lord Rama being plastered in poll-bound states?” Surjewala said.He said the RSS and BJP chief Amit Shah had publicly stated that surgical strikes would be their key electoral theme.
He also attacked the minister over the alleged move to reduce the disability pensions of soldiers. “The ultimate political hypocrisy; post surgical strike, Modi Sarkar cut disability pensions for ‘combat injury’ to half.” (With PTI)