Cong manifesto soft on terror, its views on Army similar to those of Pak, says PM Modi
New Delhi, Apr 9: Attacking the Congress over its manifesto, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said its election pledges are soft on terror and echo views on the Army that are similar to those of Pakistan.
In an interview to CNN-News 18, he said the Congress manifesto talks about removing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which amounts to sending soldiers to the gallows. He also exuded confidence that the BJP will again form the government with a bigger mandate as compared to 2014.
"There is a world of difference on many parameters. We are at the crossroads of eliminating terrorism. Terrorists are demoralised, we are winning a psychological war against them. Instead (of backing such efforts), the Congress manifesto is soft on terror. Their views on the Army are similar to those of Pakistan," Modi said in the interview which was broadcast on Tuesday. "No patriot will tolerate this language", he said.
"Their manifesto talks about removing AFSPA. This amounts to making a soldier weaponless. Is this right," the Prime Minister asked.
On whether the controversial law will be dealt in a time-bound manner, Modi said it is necessary to first create an environment where AFSPA would be unnecessary. He also cited an example of Arunachal Pradesh where it was revoked from a few districts.
"We then revoked it from some states. We were the first to take such a step since 1980. But we have maintained law and order. The government must have the power to protect its armed forces. Only then will they have the morale to fight. Removing AFSPA from J&K is the same as sending our soldiers to the gallows. I will never let this happen to our soldiers," he said. Modi asserted that Pulwama was an "exception" and terror attacks in the country have considerably come down. It is mostly encounters between security forces and terrorists in Kashmir, he said.
Modi also asserted that the armed forces had already "neutralised" those behind the Pulwama terror attack. He said since India did not retaliate after the 26/11 terror strike and the attack on Parliament, this "emboldened" Pakistan. "This time, we thought no more. We had conducted surgical strikes after Uri as well, but this time we felt that was not the answer. Air strike was the better option, so we took that option, and we were successful. And I believe we did this in consultation, taking everyone into confidence," he said.
Responding to a question on China using its veto power at the United Nations on terrorist Masood Azhar, Modi said as far as Beijing's stand on international issues goes, each country takes its own decisions in its own manner.
"As we do, in some matters, we take Palestine's side, in others we take Israel's side. Sometimes we back Iran, sometimes the Arab nations. All countries have their own strategies in their national interest," Modi said.
There was a time when India had only Russia's support on the international stage and the rest of the world was with Pakistan, while today the entire situation has changed, he said. "Now only China stands with Pakistan and the rest of the world with India. We must understand this change. This is proof of our success," he said.
Praising BJP president Amit Shah, Modi said he is the "most hard-working of all leaders". "I don't think any national party leader works as hard as Amit Shah throughout the year. Not just during elections, Amit Shah meets local party workers and understands issues on the ground. The BJP is benefitting from this level of hard work. I therefore trust his assessment all the more," he said.