As Prime Minister Narendra Modi's account of the Balakot airstrike and his suggestion that "clouds would help escape Pakistani radars" drew criticism, a leader of the ruling BJP leader asserted that there was "nothing wrong" with the PM sharing operational details and that it is always the political leadership that gets credit for such operations.
"Why should we be so touchy about matters related to national security?... When a question was put the PM, what is wrong if he gives the details? I don't think there should be any objection to it," said BJP leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe to NDTV.
On Saturday, in an interview by TV channel News Nation, PM Modi shared details on the decision-making before the Balakot airstrikes. "The weather suddenly turned bad, there were clouds... heavy rain. There was a doubt about whether we can go in the clouds. During a review (of the Balakot plan), by and large the opinion of experts was - what if we change the date. I had two issues in mind. One was secrecy... second, I said I am not someone who knows the science. I said there is so much cloud and rain. There is a benefit. I have a raw wisdom, the clouds can benefit us too. We can escape the radar. Everyone was confused. Ultimately I said there are clouds... let's proceed. Chal pade".
In the early hours of February 26, Indian Air Force jets crossed over to Pakistani territory to target a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training facility in Balakot. The operation was carried out days after over 40 soldiers were killed in Pulwama by a suicide bomber of the Jaish.
The PM's comments have been questioned on various levels by opposition parties as well as experts. The clouds did affect the operation as Indian jets couldn't launch six Crystal Maze missiles that day. These missiles were meant to beam back footage as they struck their targets. Though the Air Force did hit targets using Spice munitions, the video feed of the Crystal Maze strike, meant to showcase the destruction of the terror camp, never materialised because of clouds.
Left leader Sitaram Yechury has complained to the Election Commission that the Prime Minister has violated the code of conduct by "revealing operational details of a sensitive military operation."
Questions have also been raised over experts being overruled on such a critical operation.
Mr Sahasrabuddhe said: "The army should be saluted for its valour. But the decision-makers are in Delhi and they decide. The credit will go to the political leadership. It is the political will that matters. Whether it is Pokhran during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's time or even the 1971 war for which Indira Gandhi got credit. There is nothing wrong about it?"
But the Prime Minister was also trolled on social media because of the suggestion that clouds can help planes escape the radar. The interview quote shared on the official BJP and BJP Gujarat Twitter pages vanished later in the deluge of reactions.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah posted a screenshot of BJP Gujarat's then deleted tweet and wrote: "Pakistani radar doesn't penetrate clouds. This is an important piece of tactical information that will be critical when planning future air strikes."
Looks like the tweet got lost in the clouds. Luckily there are screen shots floating around to help pic.twitter.com/zSW7CsdhKL— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 11, 2019
"@narendramodiji some humble advice from a citizen. Science is real. Please consult someone qualified before you speak, so you don't embarrass India in the eyes of the world," said composer and singer Vishal Dadlani.
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