- Punjab Chief Minister hit out at PM over BJP's surgical strikes claim
- The BJP lacks the sense of history, Mr Singh said
- Our party, our UPA 3 would be forming government, Mr Singh said
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the BJP's claim that the Narendra Modi government was the first conduct to surgical strikes on terrorists across the border in Pakistan. Mr Singh said PM Modi needed "history lessons".
"The BJP lacks the sense of history. Whoever knows military history knows there have been strikes many times in the past too. When I was in the Western Command from 1964 to 1967, I think 100 strikes must have happened. They just have given it a new name 'surgical strikes'. We used to call it cross border raid," Mr Singh, who has served in the army decades ago, told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Amarinder Singh aka "Captain" had served in the Sikh regiment of the Indian Army in the 1960s.
Since the February 14 suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama that killed 40 soldiers, and the subsequent air strikes at Pakistan's Balakot, the BJP has built its election campaign around the theme of nationalism and national security.
When asked about the Congress's prospects in the election, he said, "Our party, our UPA 3 would be forming government (when results of the ongoing national election will be declared)," Mr Singh said.
Lieutenant General (Retd) DS Hooda, who led the 2016 surgical strikes, too had recently said that the Indian army had conducted surgical strikes across the Pakistan border during the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) rule too. The Congress too had claimed that while as many as six cross-border strikes were conducted between 2004 and 2014, the Manmohan Singh government never publicised the matter.
"In 1947, who was the PM? In 1962, who was the PM? Similarly, in 1965 and 1971, who was the PM? We divided Pakistan. Indira Gandhi did it but she never said 'I got it done'. She just said she is very grateful to the Indian armed forces and to Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. She has given credit to others but here is this man saying 'I have done it'. Who are you bhai? It's not your army, it's the Indian Army," Amarinder Singh said.
Amarinder Singh, who belongs to the erstwhile Patiala royals, accused PM Modi's government and his ministers of lacking knowledge on important issues such as national security.
"Either they are naive or they lack information, which I don't know why it should happen as they have all of the government to back them up with all the information. If they are trying to tell me or Mr Modi is trying to tell me that Balakot was his great ingenuity, then I must say he is a liar," he said.
Mr Singh gave full credits to the Air Force and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for shooting down a Pakistani fighter jet in February.
The Punjab Chief Minister also questioned why the government is not sharing the full details and the impact of the February 26 air strike across the Line of Control that destroyed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp in Pakistan.
He, however, stressed that the Balakot air strike is not an issue in his state. "Punjab does not want war. Punjab wants peace. We have a 540 km border with Pakistan. If you go to villages, they will say the same thing," he said.
Mr Singh said he does not doubt the air force but that "there are millions of people who want to know what the facts are".
Punjab, which has 13 Lok Sabha seats, votes in a single phase in the final phase of the seven-phase election, on May 19.