Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who labels as ‘anti-national’ opposition parties and anyone who raises questions about armed forces, has challenged the Congress’s claim that Army had conducted surgical strikes across the Line of Control when the party was in government.
Modi accused the party of telling “lies”.
The line was taken up by former chief of Army staff and Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh today (Saturday, May 4) who said Congress’s claims that six surgical strikes had been carried out during the UPA tenure were false and accused the Congress of lying.
Modi on Friday challenged the Congress’s claim that it too had conducted surgical strikes+ across the Line of Control, accusing the party of telling lies.
“Pehle upeksha, fir virodh, ab me too me too (They initially rejected it, then opposed and now saying ‘me too’),” Modi said at an election rally.
He slammed the Congress for telling lies and said the party does surgical strikes only “on paper”.
This got a sharp reaction from Congress president Rahul Gandhi who launched a scathing attack on the PM for raising suspicion over the claims and asserted that he was insulting the Army.
“The Army, Air Force or Navy is not personal properties of Narendra Modi ji like he thinks. When he says that surgical strikes during UPA were done in video games then he is not insulting Congress, but the Army. These air strikes were done by the Army and we do not politicize the Army. The Prime Minister should not insult the Army,” IANS quoted Gandhi as saying.
The war of words between the two sides continued. In a tweet today, General VK Singh, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Ghaziabad on a BJP ticket, asked the Congress to provide proof of the surgical strikes that it claimed to have conducted between 2008 and 2014.
General VK Singh said, “Congress has a habit of lying. Will you please let me know which ‘So called Surgical Strike’ are you attributing to my tenure as COAS. Am sure you must have hired some Coupta to invent another story.”
However, Lt General (Retd) DS Hooda, who was chief architect of the 2016 surgical strikes under Modi government, said that the India Army had carried out many such strikes in the past even before the Modi government came to power. “Call it surgical strikes or call it cross border operations, said Hooda and added that he’s not aware of exact dates and areas that have been brought out.”
Hooda, who was the Northern Army Commander during the ‘surgical strike’ in September 2016, had recently prepared a comprehensive report on India’s national security after he was roped in by the grand old party to prepare it.
The sparring started after Congress leader Rajiv Shukla on Thursday, in a press conference, listed six dates on which he claimed surgical strikes were carried out.
Giving out the dates, Shukla had claimed that the first strike was conducted on June 19, 2008, in Bhattal Sector in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch. The second was conducted from August 30-September 1, 2011, in the Sharda sector across the Neelam River Valley in Kel. He said that a third surgical strike took place on January 6, 2013, at Sawan Patra Checkpost; another on July 27 and July 28, 2013, at Nazapir Sector; a fifth one on August 6, 2013 at Neelam Valley; and the sixth one on January 14, 2014.
Shukla further claimed that two surgical strikes were carried out when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM.
Earlier, former prime minister Manmohan Singh had also told The Hindustan Times that the Army had conducted such operations during his tenure as PM but the Congress had not stooped to seeking votes for Army action or taking political credit for it..
News media organisations have also reported some surgical strikes carried out by the Army before Modi government’s time.