Mumbai: Amid an onslaught of allegations that the government is trying to appropriate undue credit for the surgical strikes across the Line of Control, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that while the armed forces deserve "100 percent credit", the government "must be cheered for the decision it took boldly."
- India conducted surgical strikes across Line of Control last month
- Helped with planning and decision-making: Defence Minister
- Opposition accuses government of stealing credit from army
"No one thought India could do something like this," the Defence Minister said, stressing that the army was "given a free hand" by the government, which he praised for having "the guts to take decisions."
The Congress responded by holding the government responsible for "relentless chest-thumping," despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi warning ministers not to gloat over the surgical strikes.
Mr Parrikar said "30 years of steam was released on September 29" when soldiers crossed into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir to target seven staging areas for terrorists. He also said that the strikes have conveyed to Pakistan that there is "now no predictability with India...the next response may not be a surgical strike, it could be different." As ndtv.com reported yesterday, intel experts say the "surprise" element India has added to its policy will serve as a deterrent to a response from Islamabad to the surgical strikes.
Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi have said that PM Modi and his senior ministers are exaggerating the government's role in the military action and that when the Congress was in power, three similar cross-border strikes had been carried out, which were not publicized to prevent an escalation of tension with Pakistan and to allow the army the secrecy and space it needs for highly-sensitive operations.
"I have been Defence Minister for over two years and from whatever I've learnt, there was no surgical strike anytime earlier," Mr Parrikar countered today.
BJP president Amit Shah has said the surgical strikes will feature in the party's electoral campaign for Uttar Pradesh.
Pakistan has denied the cross-border raids, accusing India of misrepresenting cross-border firing as extra-ordinary action. Opposition leaders including from the Congress and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have asked the government to demolish Pakistan's claims by sharing evidence of the strikes. Top ministers say those calls for proof are tantamount to siding with Pakistan on a matter of crucial national security.