Rajnath Singh praises PM Modi for Balakot air strike

If former prime minister Indira Gandhi can be praised for the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, PM Narendra Modi too deserved appreciation for avenging the Pulwama terror attack, Union home minister Rajnath Singh said at an election rally in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region on Tuesday.

Launching a blistering attack on the Congress, which purportedly sought to know how many terrorists were killed during Balakot air strike, Singh said, “The brave don’t count bodies, only vultures do.”

On February 26, the Indian Air Force had launched an attack on terror camps in Balakot, Pakistan, to avenge the Pulwama suicide bombing in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel lost their lives.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are engaged in a verbal duel over the Balakot air raid, with the opposition party accusing the government of politicising a military action.

“When Indira Gandhi divided Pakistan and created Bangladesh in 1971, our leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, stood and praised her in Parliament. Why can’t the Congress show similar gesture towards Modi after the Balakot strike?” Rajnath asked at the rally in Chandrapur, where he sought votes for Union minister, Hansraj Ahir. “[After Balakot,] India is no longer treated as a weak nation.”

At a separate election meeting in Amaravati, Singh said he was surprised at the way some people in India were upset after the Balakot strike. Singh said the action was carried out with “utmost care” and was targeted at terrorists. “We didn’t kill innocent people or army men in Pakistan. We targeted terrorists who carried out [the Pulwama terror] attack. India has never been expansionist.”

Singh said there is a change in the way in how New Delhi functions, and after the Pulwama incident, Prime Minister Modi asked forces to avenge the death of CRPF personnel within 15 days. It was done within 13 days, Singh added. “We don’t trouble anyone, but if someone troubles us, we don’t spare them,” he said.

Earlier in Chandrapur, Singh hit out at the Congress over its promise to scrap the sedition law. “Shouldn’t the law take its own course against those who want to divide India? What does the Congress want to achieve? Please save the country from these people,” he said. The home minister also claimed there was a “Modi wave” across the country and that even rival leaders such as Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party have sensed it and predicted the “return of the Modi government”.

“Pawar saheb knows that Congress is not going to win, and has already deserted the battlefield,” the home minister said, referring to Pawar’s announcement last month that he would not contest the Lok Sabha polls.

Singh also criticised the Congress’ poll promise of providing Rs 72,000 every year to poor families, and called it an “eyewash”.

“They [Congress] have put conditions such as you get benefit of this scheme only if your income is less than Rs 12,000. It has promised to only provide for amount that is short of Rs 12,000. If a family has an income of Rs 11,500, then such families will only get Rs 500. This is an eyewash. They can afford to do this because they know they are not going to come to power,” Singh said.

The home minister also talked about issues raised in the BJP’s election manifesto such as universal income support to farmers, pension to the agrarian community and small businessmen. Campaigning for the Shiv Sena candidate, Anandrao Adsul, Singh said in Amaravati that the alliance with the Maharashtra based party was unbreakable.

“Alliance is not a compulsion for us, it is our commitment,” Singh said, referring to the Sena which had a bittersweet relationship with the BJP before announcing a seat sharing plan in February. Of the 48 seats in Maharashtra, the BJP will contest in 25 seats and the Sena in 23.

“People were predicting that BJP and Sena will part ways, but I used to tell people that god has created these two parties to stay together and they will stay together.” On Article 370, Singh said, “I repeat that the BJP is committed to abrogation of Article 370 in J&K and repeal Article 35A.”

While Article 370 of the Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35A provides special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the state. He also said the BJP-led NDA was comfortably ahead of rivals and he will not be surprised if the ruling alliance gets a three-fourth majority.

First Published:
Apr 09, 2019 22:38 IST

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