- PM Modi warns Pak while campaigning for Lok Sabha polls
- Attacks Pak for "repeatedly announcing it had nuclear button"
- BJP's 2019 campaign has focused heavily on India-Pak tension
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who on Sunday said it was New Delhi's threats of consequences that led to Pakistan releasing captured IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, in Gujarat's Patan, raised the pitch at his next election rally in Rajasthan's Barmer. India, he indicated, also has nuclear weapons and would not be cowed down by Pakistan.
"India has quit the policy of being scared of Pakistani threats. Haven't I done the right thing," he questioned the crowd, which roared approval. "Else, every other day they announced, "We have nuclear button, we have nuclear button". So what do we have then? Are those being saved for Diwali?"
Since the terror attack on Pulwama, the BJP campaign has been built around nationalism and national security. But while PM Modi and his ministers and party leaders have accused the Congress of failing the country on that front, the government has not said much on what transpired during the communications with Pakistan at the time.
The tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours had drawn the attention of other nations. The pilot's release took place after some behind-the-scene manoeuvring by the international community, especially the US, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Today, PM Modi said New Delhi had warned Pakistan that "if anything happened to our pilot, you will keep telling the world that Modi did this to you".
"A senior American official said on the second day that Modi has kept ready 12 missiles and might attack and the situation will deteriorate. Pakistan announced they would return the pilot on the second day, else it was going to be a 'qatal ki raat'' (a night of slaughter)," PM Modi was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
Then he added: "This was said by America, I have nothing to say about this now, I will speak about it when the time comes".
Abhinandan Varthaman was captured in February after he shot down a Pakistani F-16 during an aerial dogfight after the Pakistani jets had violated Indian airspace and targeted military installations.
The move came a day after India had targeted a terror camp of Jaish-e Mohammad in Balakot. The Pakistan-based terror group had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy, in which 40 men died on February 14.