Nirmala Sitharaman claims UPA regime neglected Army, says jawans did not have bulletproof vests, guns or ammunition then

Thiruvananthapuram: Attacking the previous Congress-led UPA regime for 'not buying even one thing' for the armed forces during its 10 year tenure, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the personnel did not even have bullet proof vests, leave alone Rafale jet, which was never bought.

"I want to ask why during the UPA period not even one thing was bought for our armed forces. Not even bullet proof vests were bought in the 10 years, leave alone buying Rafale, which they did not," Sitharaman said speaking at an election convention of the BJP's candidate from Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, Kummanam Rajashekahran, who resigned as Mizoram Governor to contest the polls.

The defence minister did not name her predecessor AK Antony, who hails from Kerala and said she did not want to comment on him as he an elderly person and a senior leader.

 Nirmala Sitharaman claims UPA regime neglected Army, says jawans did not have bulletproof vests, guns or ammunition then

File image of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. PTI

Sharpening her attack on the Congress, she said "Totally, the Indian armed forces were left without anything. There were guns, but no bullets. There were tanks, but no ammunition. There were aircraft, but systems were not working. So what was the big deal of having a big Army if you did not give them anything to protect your borders safetly without which protecting this country is a big task. We have two big active enemies. We have to take care of both the borders," she said.

That was why Pakistan could repeatedly send terrorists who came with the full support of the Pakistan army, the defence minsiter said. There were terrorist attacks in every corner of the country.

The defence minister said if the UPA government had taken steps like the Narendra Modi government did, India would have probably been able to control terror from spreading.

After the deadly Pulwama strike by Pakistan terrorists, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel, the BJP government had received intelligence inputs that more such suicide bomb attacks were likely to take place in different places of the country, she said.

"Due to the intelligence information we had, like laser strike, we went and hit the centre from from where these terrorists were coming out", Sitharaman said.

She alleged that the UPA government did not take enough action after the 26 November, 2008 Mumbai attack, though the Army was willing to do so.

There was no political will, she alleged. She said no country had criticised India's action after it went into Pakistan territory and attacked a terrorist training camp in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack.

She said that in the last five years, the opposition had often criticised the Prime Minister Modi's visits abroad. But the purpose of his visits was to strengthen India's relations with various countries as a result of which he made it a point to tell the truth about Pakistan to the world, she said.

"Today all these countries have understood what was India's compulsion to go to Pakistan territory and attack the terrorist camp," she said adding every country had spoken with responsiblity to support Modi and isolate Pakistan.

She said international forums were repeatedly told about the money trail reaching Pakistan and training being given to terrorists there. "There is international understanding of Financial Action
Against Terror Funding (FATF) and India was able to convince the global community against Pakistan," she said.

Sitharaman said there was a sense of hoplessness during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Now India could be showcased as a responsible economy with a determined leadership.

"Now the international community takes us seriously," the minister said.

Taking a jibe at the opposition for not yet naming its Prime Ministerial candidate, Sitharaman said the BJP has only one such candidate, while there are several prospective PMs in the opposition. "Is there one or are there several in the queue?", she asked.

She urged the people of Kerala to cast their votes to ensure that the Modi government gets another term and maintain the growth momentum.

The UPA regime was a "waste of 10 years", she said, adding a lot of work has happened in the last five years.

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Updated Date: Mar 27, 2019 09:03:58 IST