Mumbai, Apr 23, 2019 : BJP leader Pankaja Munde today took the political discourse down a further notch, suggesting that those sceptical about the surgical strikes conducted by the army would be convinced only if the explosives were strapped onto Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, NDTV reported.
"We conducted the surgical strike after a cowardly attack on our soldiers. Some people ask what the surgical strikes was about, and what’s the evidence that they even happened. I say we should have attached a bomb to Rahul Gandhi and sent him to another country. Then they would have understood," news agency ANI quoted Ms Munde, a minister in the cabinet of Devendra Fadnavis, as saying at a rally in the state’s Jalna Lok Sabha constituency.
The army had conducted surgical strikes on terror camps across the Line of Control on September 29, 2016, eleven days after four heavily armed Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists killed 19 soldiers in an attack on an army base in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri.
The comment is likely to spark yet another controversy at a time the Election Commission has advised political parties against using the armed forces to win votes in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
Opposition parties have alleged that the BJP-led central government has been citing military operations such as the surgical strikes and the recent air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot to create the impression that only a government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi can safeguard the nation.
Still, references to the military operations keep coming at election rallies.
Last week, news agency Press Trust of India quoted PM Modi as saying at an election rally in Chhattisgarh that the strength of "one vote" (cast for the BJP) had resulted in the surgical and air strikes against Pakistan.
A week before that, the Election Commission sought a report on the Prime Minister’s appeal to first-time voters in Maharashtra’s Latur.
"I want to ask my first-time voters, can your first vote be dedicated to the soldiers who conducted the Balakot air strikes? Can your first vote be in the name of the martyrs who lost their lives in Pulwama?" PM Modi had said.
In December, Rahul Gandhi had claimed that the Indian Army conducted three surgical strikes across the Line of Control during the United Progressive Alliance rule, but the matter was kept under wraps. Even Lt General DS Hooda, who oversaw the surgical strike, admitted that it had been "overhyped and politicised".
The BJP maintains that the opposition’s objections are demoralising the armed forces. "People who level such allegations are weakening the army. But should I worry about the personal attacks being made against me or the fact that the country’s needs still have to be met? No matter what... I will continue to give primacy to the country’s security," PM Modi had said in an exclusive interview with ANI earlier this year.