Mumbai/ New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday rubbished Congress' claim of the army having undertaken surgical strikes under it and demanded a "major" share of credit for the military action post-Uri attack for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, escalating a bruising war of words with Congress.
Stung by the attack, Congress accused him of "blatant politicisation" of the issue and demanded an apology.
Speaking at two events in Mumbai, Parrikar said all the 127 crore people of India, including "doubting Thomases", and the army share and deserve credit for the operation as it was done by the armed forces and not by any political party.
At the same time, he said that "major share" of credit does go to Modi and the government for decision-making and planning.
He also made it clear that Congress' claims of such attacks having been carried out when the UPA was in power were wrong as those operations were undertaken by border actionteams at local level "without the knowledge" of the government.
"I don't mind sharing the credit, including on surgical strike, with every countryman because it is done by our armed forces and not by any political party. So all Indians, including, those doubting Thomases, can share the credit," he said at a function in Mumbai, adding his statement will settle the nerves of many.
Parrikar's remarks drew stinging criticism from the Congress, which called them "misleading" and said by rejecting the claim that such strikes had taken place in the past, the Defence Minister had "undermined" the sacrifices made by the army.
"Mr Parrikar, Indian Army deserves all credit but why mislead the people and undermine army's sacrifices by denying earlier surgical strikes?
"Operation Ginger in 2011 was a large-scale surgical strike. Why is Manohar Parrikar quiet on army's valour? Is (it) not blatant politicisation?" Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked and demanded an apology from the Minister.
"Converting national security into an event management exercise to polish the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is extremely unfortunate," he said.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the other hand accused Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar of "belittling" the valour of the Indian Army, saying his statement over surgical strikes shows that he is indulging in low-grade politics.
The party also claimed that the BJP was trying to encash on the issue ahead of Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
"There is no better example of low-grade politics. By issuing such statement, Parrikar is belittling the achievements of the Indian Army, which has had a proud history of valour and sacrifice," AAP's Delhi unit convener Dilip Pandey said.
He said that Parrikar had also compared the Indian Army to Hanuman who had to be made aware of his powers and by saying this he has "insulted" the army.
The AAP leader also lodged a complaint, asking the police to book Parrikar under sedition charges.
"The BJP has misused issues ahead of polls. During Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, it got a full page advertisement printed about Chinese incursions. They exploited cow during the Bihar polls and now they are doing this ahead of UP polls," Pandey said....