Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made several contrasting statements on the issue of surgical strikes on Wednesday. Parrikar said that the current government is the first one to carry out surgical strikes and there have not been any surgical strikes in the past. His raked up the issue after PM Modi refrained from speaking on it a day earlier during his Dussehra address. Ever since PM Modi decided to attend the Dussehra event in Lucknow, there were speculations that he will use the occasion to speak about the surgical strikes. There were posters of him with Rajnath Singh outside the Aishbagh ground calling them ‘avengers of Uri.’ PM Modi, however, abstained from speaking on the matter, perhaps, in a bid to refrain from politicising the issue. However, Parrikar’s statement made sure the issue remains alive in electoral discourse during the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking on the same day, Parrikar first stated that he would take part credit but the credit goes to PM Modi for his decisive action and the army. Then he changed his statement saying the credit entirely goes to Army and 127 crore people of the country and that “we (Parrikar, Modi and the govt) don’t take credit for the operations”.
“I don’t mind sharing credits, including the surgical strikes, with every countryman because it is done by our Armed Forces and not by any political party. I will only share the credit at the most… the major share goes to the Prime Minister but the issue I will at least claim the credit (for) is decision making ability and planning,” Parrikar said while speaking at the MET 2016 (Materials Engineering Technology) conference in Mumbai.
He later added, “To all the doubting Thomases, I would like to say that the credit for the surgical strikes goes to all the 127 crore Indians, and not to any political party. It was the Army which carried out the surgical strikes and perhaps a little credit for decision making (to allow it) can go to our Prime Minister and me.”
Parrikar then said that “to my knowledge there were no surgical strikes carried in the past. Those action can at the best be called as ‘covert operations’ where the action was taken first and the Government was informed later. But the 29 September strikes were a result of a government decision.”
Parrikar has come under heavy fire from the Opposition in recent days who have even gone to term him unfit to be Defence Minister. The Opposition alleged that the minister has wrongly claimed credit for the Army’s operation.
India carried out surgical strikes on terror launchpads in PoK on September 29 after an Army encampment was attacked by Pakistani terrorists at Uri near the Brigade HQ on September 18. Nineteen soldiers were killed in the Uri attack. Indian armed forces have carried out covert ops and cross-border attacks in the past in Pakistan to hit adversaries including terrorists. But, this is the first time that an Indian government has come out taking responsibility for conducting surgical strikes.
In recent days, Opposition leaders have gone after Parrikar and the prime minister, seeking evidence of the operations. Senior leaders of previous regime like P Chidambaram and Salman Khurshid and even former NSA Shiv Shankar Menon – who served during the tenure of former PM Manmohan Singh – have been quoted in several reports saying UPA government carried out surgical strikes in the past as well but they didn’t claim responsibility of those attacks neither did they make it public as their target was not to gain political brownie points.