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Balakot strike not a political issue, but nothing wrong if its raised in campaign: Harsh Vardhan


New Delhi, May 1: Brushing aside the charge that BJP was politicising the IAF strike in Balakot in Pakistan, Union minister Harsh Vardhan has said it is neither a political issue nor the one which can be thought about in terms of votes.

In an interview to PTI, Vardhan, who is BJP's Chandni Chowk candidate, asserted that his campaign is centred around development issues and not the air strike as people were already hailing the valour of the defence forces.

Union minister Harsh Vardhan

"For us all, these issues which are related to the nationalistic sentiment of this country, to the valour of the army men, to the holistic and comprehensive nationalistic vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are not political issues and not the ones about which you think in terms of votes. I don't raise this issue (Balakot air strike) on my own. I have hundreds of other issues related to development done by me in my constituency and other issues where we have brought science and technology to higher pedestal internationally," Vardhan said when asked about whether he too will use the issue in his election campaign, like the prime minister did.

[Suffered no damage in Balakot air strike: Pak army]

Recently, at a poll rally in Patan, Gujarat, PM Modi told people that he had warned Pakistan of consequences if it had not returned Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. The prime minister has been referring to national security and the recent strikes by India against terrorists in his poll campaigns across the country. Sixty-four-year-old Vardhan, who is the minister of science and technology, earth sciences and environment, forests and climate change, said he himself does not talk about the air strike and national security in campaigns but "there is nothing abnormal even if it is raised".

[Post Balakot, IAF speaks of better technological asymmetry]

Hailing the BJP-led central government and the prime minister, Vardhan said that the government has shown the world that India cannot be taken for granted. "There are thousands of other things to talk about. When I talk to people, I don't talk about Balakot. However, there is nothing abnormal if I raise it on my own. The government has shown not only to Pakistan but to the whole world that we really mean business, you cannot take us for granted. For us, it is not a political issue and it will never be. Even if you ask the most illiterate person in the country, he will praise the army men and the leadership of the PM," he said.

Vardhan, incumbent MP from Chandi Chowk and a four-time MLA from east Delhi's Krishna Nagar, refuted the allegations of the Opposition that BJP was "blatantly politicising" Balakot air strike and seeking votes in the name of martyrs, saying it showed the "sheer frustration" of opposition parties.

"This is just out of sheer frustration that they (opposition) are talking about all these illogical, irrelevant things. Any issue related to valour will be engrained in history. Balakot incident was done in such a meticulous manner, that it will be recorded as one of the most sophisticated air strikes carried out by any country that went to another country and destroyed terror camps. It's an achievement worth recognising internationally as well as nationally," he said.

He said issues cannot be manufactured in a cabinet meeting or at a political party's office but are those which are discussed by the people. "Issue is something which you cannot manufacture in a cabinet meeting or in a political party's office. Issues are those about which people of India think. I have strongly observed that today we don't have to talk about the valour of the PM before people. It is the people who talk about Balakot, Uri and these air strikes and accomplishments in space," he said.

The Indian Air Force had struck Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camps in Pakistan on February 26 in response to the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.


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