Multiple surgical strikes done during UPA tenure, but never had to hide behind army's valour, says Manmohan Singh

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has said that the Narendra Modi government has publicised surgical strikes in an effort to draw attention away from its many failures.

FP Staff May 02, 2019 10:49:42 IST
Multiple surgical strikes done during UPA tenure, but never had to hide behind army's valour, says Manmohan Singh
  • On the campaign trail leading up to and through the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has relied heavily on the alleged success of the Uri and Balakot surgical strikes

  • Manmohan also came down heavily on charges of not having reacted with sharpness after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai

  • Manmohan in the interview also said Modi has been riding on the empty rhetoric concerning India's national security.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has said that the Narendra Modi government has publicised surgical strikes in an effort to draw attention away from its many failures.

In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, Singh said "multiple surgical strikes" were done during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance government which he headed but alleged that never before had an Indian government needed to ride on the achievements of the army as it is doing now.

Ever since the 2016 surgical strike, and especially on the campaign trail leading up to and through the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party has relied heavily on the alleged success of the Uri and Balakot surgical strikes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and several BJP leaders have hit out at Manmohan over his government's allegedly ineffective handling of terror. Shah especially has referred to Manmohan as "mauni baba" — which literally translates to "dumb saint" — multiple times at campaign rallies. In his interview, however, Manmohan seems to have broken his silence and responded conclusively to charges that his government was soft on terror.

Multiple surgical strikes done during UPA tenure but never had to hide behind armys valour says Manmohan Singh

File image of Manmohan Singh. PTI

"Let me remind you that our armed forces were always given a free hand to operationally respond to every threat. Multiple surgical strikes took place during our 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. In the past 70 years, a government in power never had to hide behind the valour of our armed forces. Such attempts to politicize our forces are shameful and unacceptable. All this is being done to draw the attention away from unpardonable failures of Modi Government on the economic front, on jobs, on rural distress, on MSMEs and the informal sector," the former prime minister told Hindustan Times' Sunetra Choudhury.

The economist also came down heavily on charges of not having reacted with sharpness after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. "In the absence of facts, everyone can re-judge history in hindsight. I disagree with the insinuation that we were not ready with military punitive actions...Within 14 days of the Mumbai attack, we got China to agree to declare Hafiz Saeed as a global terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of UN," he said.

On Wednesday, the same committee blacklisted Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar in what BJP brass has already claimed as a personal victory of Narendra Modi's.

Manmohan in the interview also said Modi has been riding on the "empty rhetoric" concerning India's national security.

His claim of previous surgical strikes echoes one made by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, who in an Udaipur rally before the Rajastan Assembly election in 2018 had said that the Army had conducted three surgical strikes while the UPA was in power but had kept those operations a secret.

“Do you know that like Narendra Modi’s surgical strike, (former PM) Manmohan Singh did that three times? When the army came to Manmohan Singh and said we need to retaliate against Pakistan for what they’ve done, they also said we want it to be secret, for our own purposes,” Rahul had said.

Congress has also, significantly, appointed Lt Gen (retired) DS Hooda, who oversaw the BJP government's much publicised 2016 Uri surgical strike, to head a task force on national security. Hooda has been among many to allege that the Modi government has disproportionately hyped the strikes.

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