Rajnath Singh hit out at the Congress today over criticism of the 'shastra puja' he performed in front of the Rafale fighter jet handed over by France on October 8. The Defence Minister, who was addressing an election rally in Karnal district of Haryana ahead of Assembly polls in the state on October 21, told opposition leaders their remarks "only strengthen" Pakistan.
"...We are getting a new fighter aircraft which is much stronger. But before using it, we have to do puja. So, I wrote 'Om' on the fighter plane. But, Congress leaders started a controversy. You are objecting to the word 'Om'? Don't we say or write 'Om' in our homes? Don't Christians say 'Amen'? Don't Muslims say 'Ameen'? Rajnath Singh said.
"They should have welcomed Rafale. Instead, they started criticising. Statements by Congress leaders only strengthen Pakistan," he added.
#WATCH Defence Min: I wrote 'Om' on fighter plane (Rafale), & tied a 'raksha bandhan' to it. Congress leaders started a controversy here...They should've welcomed that Rafale is coming here. Instead,they started criticising. Statements by Congress leaders only strengthen Pakistan pic.twitter.com/5q0IU4SkmX— ANI (@ANI) October 13, 2019
On October 8, after the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets was handed over to India, Rajnath Singh performed a 'shastra puja' - a traditional veneration of weapons on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami.
His actions prompted criticism from opposition leaders, with Congress politician Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, calling it "tamasha" and Udit Raj, a former BJP minister who joined the Congress earlier this year, questioning how "nimbu-nariyal" (lemon-coconut) could protect a modern fighter jet.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar was similarly sceptical, saying, "...what can one say when lemon-chili is hung on Rafale aircraft..."
Rajnath Singh reminded opposition leaders of the power of the Rafale, an all-weather multi-role fighter jet that is widely regarded as one of the deadliest in its class.
"If we had Rafale with us, then I think we need not have entered Pakistan for Balakot airstrike. We could have eliminated terror camps even while sitting in India," the Defence Minister claimed, referring to February airstrikes that targeted Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camps in Pakistan.
Mr Singh also called on the people of Haryana to give a "befitting reply" in state elections, stating that the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar government had worked for the people in the past five years.
"Unlike previous Chief Ministers of Haryana - be it from Congress or from INLD who used to run their governments from Delhi and not from Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar runs the government by working from the grass-root level," he said.
Elections in Haryana (and Maharashtra) are scheduled for October 21 with results due October 24. The BJP, which won 47 of 90 seats in 2014, has targeted 75 in this election.
With input from ANI
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