Rahul slams PM for pol­i­tics over sur­gi­cal strikes

Backs for­mer of­fi­cer’s ‘ hype’ re­mark

The Asian Age - - Front Page - AGE COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi on Satur­day latched on to the re­marks of the Army of­fi­cer who had over­seen the 2016 sur­gi­cal strikes across the LoC to train his guns at Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi for us­ing them to gain po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal.

“Spo­ken like a true soldier Gen­eral. In­dia is so proud of you. Mr 36 has ab­so­lutely no shame in us­ing our mil­i­tary as a per­sonal as­set. He used the sur­gi­cal strikes for po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal and the Rafale deal to in­crease Anil Am­bani’s real cap­i­tal by 30,000 cr. # Sur­gi­calStrike ( sic),” Mr Gandhi, who has of­ten in the past ac­cused the Prime Min­is­ter of us­ing a rou­tine mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion to boost his im­age as a de­ci­sive and fear­less leader, tweeted.

For­mer North­ern Army Com­man­der Lt. Gen. D. S. Hooda ( Retd), who mon­i­tored live video feed of the sur­gi­cal strikes on ter­ror­ist launch pads across the bor­der in Septem­ber 2016, had said at an event in Chandi­garh on Fri­day that con­stant main­te­nance of “too much hype” around mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions was un­war­ranted.

“In hind­sight, it would have been bet­ter had we done it ( sur­gi­cal strikes) se­cretly,” he said, trig­ger­ing a ma­jor con­tro­versy.

Re­act­ing to Lt. Gen. Hooda’s com­ments, Army Chief Gen­eral Bipin Rawat on Satur­day termed it as an “in­di­vid­ual per­son’s per­cep­tion”.

“Lt. Gen. Hooda was one of the main per­sons in­volved in these op­er­a­tions… I re­spect his words very much,” Gen.

Mr 36 has ab­so­lutely no shame in us­ing our mil­i­tary as a per­sonal as­set... — Rahul Gandhi, Congress prez

Lt. Gen. Hooda was ‘ one of the main per­sons’ in­volved in these op­er­a­tions. I re­spect his words very much. — Gen. Bipin Rawat, Army Chief

It would have been bet­ter if the 2016 sur­gi­cal strikes were car­ried out se­cretly — Lt. Gen. D. S. Hooda ( Retd), who over­saw the strikes

Rawat said. Com­ment­ing on Gen. Hooda’s re­marks, in­cum­bent North­ern Army Com­man­der Lt. Gen. Ran­bir Singh said in Kapurthala on Satur­day, “From mil­i­tary point of view, these were suc­cess­ful tac­ti­cal op­er­a­tions, which con­veyed a very clear mes­sage to Pak­istan that should they not stop any kind of mis­ad­ven­ture along the LoC, they shall be given be­fit­ting re­ply.”

“Sur­gi­cal strike is one of the op­tions avail­able to the Army. It had a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the coun­try. We’ve been able to curb ter­ror­ism to a great ex­tent,” he added.

Lt. Gen. Hooda, while par­tic­i­pat­ing in a dis­cus­sion in Chandi­garh’s Mil­i­tary Lit­er­a­ture Fes­ti­val, had said that the aim of any of­fen­sive like the sur­gi­cal strikes has to be strate­gic be­sides be­ing tac­ti­cal as it sub­stan­tially af­fects the morale of the en­emy.

“The mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion was im­por­tant and we had to do it. Now how much should it have been politi­cised, whether it is right or wrong, is some­thing that should be asked to politi­cians,” Lt. Gen. Hooda had said.

He also said that it was nat­u­ral to have ini­tial eu­pho­ria about the suc­cess, but the con­stant main­te­nance of hype around the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion was un­war­ranted.

The sur­gi­cal strikes were con­ducted af­ter a ter­ror at­tack on an Army camp in Uri in Kash­mir on Septem­ber 18, 2016, in which 19 sol­diers were killed. The Army said sev­eral ter­ror­ist launch pads were de­stroyed and many ter­ror­ists were killed in the op­er­a­tion.

Congress spokesper­son Ab­hishek Manu Singhvi, al­leged at a press con­fer­ence that “this govern­ment is guilty of the most crass and cheap politi­ci­sa­tion of the Army”.

“Anonymity of the Army is its big­gest strength and it was main­tained by ev­ery govern­ment ex­cept this one. But we are grate­ful that some amount of truth is com­ing out, and it is com­ing out at the high­est level,” he said.

Congress’ chief spokesper­son Ran­deep Sur­je­w­ala thanked Lt. Gen. Hooda for “ex­pos­ing the petty politi­ci­sa­tion by PM Modi”.

“No one can use the val­our and sac­ri­fice of our brave sol­diers to score cheap po­lit­i­cal points Modiji is squarely guilty of com­pro­mis­ing Na­tional Se­cu­rity and Strate­gic In­ter­ests by un­war­ranted chest thump­ing!” Mr Sur­je­w­ala tweeted.

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