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Manmohan Singh's mid-election claim on UPA-era surgical strikes defeats Congress' effort to corner BJP for 'politicising' Army

The back and forth between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh over the so-called six surgical strikes conducted under the UPA regime is mind boggling. Right from the timing of Singh's claim to the tenacity of the argument laid out, and then the political bickering that followed raises some serious doubts on Congress party's claims that it does not believe in politicising the armed forces. Meanwhile, Modi's claim that the former prime minister is outright lying is another problematic statement.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Singh criticised Modi on that very account and said it was "shameful" how the prime minister was using the 2016 surgical strike as well as the recent Balakot airstrike for votes. And then he goes on to assert that multiple surgical strikes were carried out by the UPA regime but the government never publicised them or use them to garner votes, in the middle of the election season.

"Multiple surgical strikes took place during our [UPA] tenure, too. For us, military operations were meant for strategic deterrence and giving a befitting reply to anti-India forces than to be used for vote garnering exercises," said Singh.

 Manmohan Singhs mid-election claim on UPA-era surgical strikes defeats Congress effort to corner BJP for politicising Army

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Congress' Rajiv Shukla to conducted a press conference to assert the same.

But now that Shuka has thrown national security caution to the winds and scored one over the ropes, it has to be asked what prompted this startling disclosure, and why now. In one fell swoop he has nmade public six military exercises that for whatever reason had been kept under wraps by those who conducted them.

What baffles the mind is the need for this muscle flex which is at best an exercise in futility. After all, the reasons for not making this information public must have been based on advisories form the armed forces…if, indeed, it is true.

By now it is a question that has to be asked since any way you twist this cube the colours do not match. For one, the timing of the grand intents (must use the plural) is suspect in extremis. Secondly, what is the percentage in telling us all this now when it has stayed classified and under wraps all these years. Whether six, or sixty, the fact that it occurred to them to bring up such assaults as some sort of badge of valour is utterly sans any redeeming feature.

While Shukla may have been ordered to give these times and dates by the High Command of the Congress as evidence of a muscle flexing UPA regime, the need for Singh to step down from the pedestal of sober and graceful silence is witnessed with a sense of dismay. Where was the call to involve oneself in this murky confession of attacks, of which, no one except Shukla had any knowledge.

The Congress wishes us to believe that the Pakistanis on all six occasions were kind enough and accommodating enough to bear the brunt of the surgical strikes and that on each occasion Islamabad’s army generals philosophically decided to let it go without any fuss. On all six assaults.

Now, while the Congress may not know the difference between a surgical strike and several thousand skirmishes and confrontations which have occurred since 2000 the former requires intelligence, planning and training including several dry runs in controlled and simulated conditions. The crack troops, so selected from top battalions, then prepare for the big attack. The chain of command extends from the soldiers through to medevac, air cover, post operation extraction options, through brigade and division levels to the army commander and the chief himself. To think that for twenty years, on several occasions, these attacks were accomplished without a peep leaking out is next to impossible.

Furthermore, the accusation by Singh that the Congress, or if you like the UPA, did not fire a gun from the shoulders of the armed forces and take the credit like the BJP has been so keen to grab becomes pointless and void when you announce classified material like this and fire a cannon from those same shoulders.

Who gave the Congress the right to declassify material regarding any such ops and stirring the pot with no adequate cause and doing this mid election.

It would have been enough for Manmohan Singh to have said the UPA did not curb or hobble the armed forces…there was absolutely no need to allow Shukla to access and expose information that comes under the security acts.

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Updated Date: May 04, 2019 14:38:10 IST