While the parliamentary poll is in full swing in India, PM Narendra Modi has addressed an audience at an election rally detailing why he prioritises security issues in his policies, as well as pondering on the soured ties with Pakistan.
India has called Pakistan’s nuclear capacity bluff in recent cross-border air strikes, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday, adding that one country cannot have two prime ministers.
Referring to the air strikes by the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Balakot, Modi addressed an election rally:
“Pakistan and its supporters have been threatening us for long with its nuclear capability but the IAF called its bluff with its strikes”, The Economic Times India quoted him as saying.
“Those days are gone when India would give in to threats. This is a new India and it will strike terrorists well inside their hideouts across the border”, he warned.
Modi also called out the National Conference, a political party in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress Party and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP.)
He found fault with the Congress, for instance, for criticizing him over his attention to India’s security issues, saying:
“They do so because they never fully trusted the country’s defence forces”, Modi said, before going on:
“The Congress always restricted our Army from going all out against terrorists”. He specified that the Congress has used the defence forces only “to generate income, be it Bofors [Swedish arms manufacturer] or helicopter deals”, adding that the Congress and its allies “keep politics above the security of the country”. He also made a reference to their attitude to him as the head of the government:
“Some people are so involved in anti-Modi tirade that they have forgotten the security of the country”.
Modi then went on to knock the locally operating National Conference and PDP for supporting separatism, arguing that they threaten India with a separate prime minister and exclusion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir from the county, while stressing that the state is integral to India and will remain so.
He separately addressed the family rule in the state:
“The people of J&K are not the slaves of the Abdullahs and the Muftis whose three generations have ruled this state”. He thundered that “these corrupt families of J&K must know that Modi will stand like a wall against their attempts to continue their family rule in the state. They may keep abusing me but they will not succeed in dividing this country”.
“One country cannot have two Prime Ministers, two flags and two constitutions. That commitment made by Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee is our firm resolve”, news agency PTI quoted him as saying.
Modi vowed that India would not give up its claim to Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-dominated state, which has been divided between two countries and been the subject of two wars between the neighbours since their independence in 1947.
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India has, meanwhile, entered full election mode as voting for members of a new lower house of parliament kicked off on 11 April, and the last ballot is expected to be cast five weeks later on 19 May. Opposition parties accuse Modi of exploiting unrest in Kashmir to woo Hindu voters in the election.
A new twist in the India-Pakistan conflict occurred when Indian fighter jets conducted “pre-emptive non-military” strikes against alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camps based in Balakot in Pakistan on 26 February in response to the 14 February Pulwama terror incident in which more than 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed.
The Pak-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the attack. Shortly afterwards, Pakistani jets were reported to have headed into Indian airspace, prompting India to respond. A dogfight ensued, in which a MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was shot down by Pakistan. India claims that before going down, the Indian MiG-21 had also downed an F-16 from the Pakistani air force, while Pakistan denies it.