Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was the toast of his party Thursday in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh where he was felicitated at meetings in Agra and Lucknow for the Army’s surgical strikes along the Line of Control. While Parrikar said the “maryada” (decorum) of his office prevented him from revealing much, his partymen issued threats, warnings to Pakistan including one that India could hit back with an “atom bomb” if threatened with a nuclear attack. Parrikar agreed with UP BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya’s description of him as a “seedha” (simple) man but said he could become “tedha” (crooked) if it helped secure the country.
Pointing out that the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister had all been elected from Uttar Pradesh, Maurya warned Pakistan to “mend its ways” or be prepared for the “Tricolour in Islamabad”.
“125 crore ki janata ko Bharat ki sena par poorna vishwas hai aur Pakistan ko batana chahte hain ki jo Tiranga Kashmir aur Delhi me feher raha hai, agar Pakistan apney harkat se baaj nahin aaya toh hamari sena yeh Tiranga Islamabad mein bhi fehra degi,” Maurya said.
At the Agra meeting, former BJP MLA Keshav Mehra said, “Pakistan baar baar atom bomb ki dhamki deta hai, agar humne atom bomb chala diya toh uska bhugol se naamo nishan mit jayega” (Pakistan keeps threatening us with an atom bomb. If we also hit them with an atom bomb, they will be wiped off the map).
The party’s OBC Morcha president S P Singh Baghel had his own take on Pakistan: “Tumne pehle chooma, phir chata, phir kaata. Tumse achche to kutte hain jo jise chaatete hain use kaatete nahin.” (You first kissed, licked, then bit. Even dogs are better than you as they don’t bite the one they lick).
Ashwini Vashisth, a BJP Agra leader, said, “The number of those who died in the surgical strike was more than 200. Ab agar Pakistan ne humla kiya, toh uska naamo-nishan mita denge (Now if Pakistan attacks, it will be wiped off).”
Parrikar, on his part, said by felicitating him, the party had honoured the Army. Acknowledging the “shahadat” (martyrdom) of soldiers, he said: “We respect those who sacrifice their lives for the country. But we should start thinking about sacrificing enemy lives… I ask our soldiers to not just kill the enemy but neutralise it. I am proud to say that India has carried out a kind of surgical strike which is rare, even when big countries perform it. We achieved 100 per cent success with no loss of life.”
Targeting people doubting the Army operation and calling for proof of the surgical strikes, Parrikar said: “No one ever doubted the bravery of our forces, but for the first time some people are expressing doubts… A race seems to be on. There’s a reason why they are asking for proof. Many people are afraid that Modi’s image will increase (after the surgical strikes).”
He said the LoC operation showed that India had the heart and courage to carry out such a strike. “People of the country can sleep peacefully. Hamara desh surakshit hai (Our country is safe).”
He said ever since the strikes, he had been flooded with emails, mostly from ex-servicemen who had expressed willingness to fight on the border if needed.
He also gave credit to the media for showing the reality of the surgical strikes and said “we don’t need to give proof of anything. Media is showing everything.”