Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that as far he knows, the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government did not launch any surgical strikes as claimed by the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in an interview with Hindustan Times last week.
Modi said that the army chiefs in charge at the time have said they do not have any information on such strikes. “What kind of surgical strike was it? Who issued the orders? Where are the orders? These are the questions they [UPA] should be asked to answer,” he said. “I can only say that we have not found any records of this”.
The Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government launched a counterstrike against terror pods across the Line of Control after the Uri terror attack in 2016, and an air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp at Balakot in Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack in February. Last week, Singh said that his government had carried out similar surgical strikes, but not used them to garner votes.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA has made national security a central plank of its campaign in the ongoing parliamentary elections. “For a decade or so, the Indian government had tied its own hands as far as Pakistan-backed terror was concerned. Pakistan kept mounting attacks and there was no cost imposed upon the perpetrators.This gave terrorists and their sponsors a kind of impunity that we can do anything and get away. First with the surgical strike and now with the air strike, we have sent the message that there will now be significant costs to sponsoring terror,” Modi said.
He denied that this would only escalate matters. “They will be aware that their strategy of sponsoring terror against India will be detrimental to their own existence”, nor does this put pressure on the government to up the ante the next time there is an attack, he said. “So out of fear of that pressure, we should do nothing?” he asked.
Also read: Exclusive| ‘We are deciding direction India takes’: PM Modi
Commenting on the recent UN listing of JeM’s Masood Azhar as a global terrorist after China withdrew its technical hold on such a listing, Modi said everyone was wrongly describing this as a China-related issue when, in reality, it is about “global terror”.
Looking relaxed as he spoke to HT in his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence, Modi said he is confident about coming back to office, and has been from his first day as PM — May 26, 2014. He denied that the elections had been reduced to a presidential one where his own image plays a big role and said that “the election is based on performance, not perception. To say that in these elections there is just a name that is working, that isn’t correct”.
The Prime Minister, who said “we are not choosing a class monitor” but “deciding the direction this country takes” in these elections, said the three issues that matter are “development, inclusive development, and development in all directions”.
“The 2019 elections are special because this is the first time those born in the 21st century are voting,” and these people “are not burdened by the past but are in pursuit of a better future,” Modi said.
May 09, 2019 06:22 IST
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