Mumbai/New Delhi Oct 12: The bruising battle of words over the surgical strikes escalated further today with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar trashing claims of such operations under the UPA, provoking a counteroffensive from the Congress which accused him of "blatant politicisation" of the issue.
While Congress demanded an apology, Parrikar asserted that a "major" share of credit for the army action last month goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Speaking at two events in Mumbai, Parrikar said all the 127 crore people of India, including "doubting Thomases", and the army share and deserve credit for the operation as it was done by the armed forces and not by any political party.
At the same time, he said that "major share" of credit does go to Modi and the government for decision-making and planning. He also made it clear that Congress' claims of such attacks having been carried out when the UPA was in power were wrong as those operations were undertaken by border action teams at local level "without the knowledge" of the government.
"I don't mind sharing the credit, including on surgical strike, with every countryman because it is done by our armed forces and not by any political party. So all Indians, including, those doubting Thomases, can share the credit," he said at a function in Mumbai, adding his statement will settle the nerves of many.
Parrikar's remarks drew stinging criticism from the Congress, which called them "misleading" and said by rejecting the claim that such strikes had taken place in the past, the Defence Minister had "undermined" the sacrifices made by the army.
"Mr Parrikar, Indian Army deserves all credit but why mislead the people and undermine army's sacrifices by denying earlier surgical strikes? "Operation Ginger in 2011 was a large-scale surgical strike.
Why is Manohar Parrikar quiet on army's valour? Is (it) not blatant politicisation?" Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked and demanded an apology from the Minister. "Converting national security into an event management exercise to polish the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is extremely unfortunate," he said.