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  India   All India  05 Mar 2019  Use common sense, Modi tells Oppn on Rafale barb

Use common sense, Modi tells Oppn on Rafale barb

Published : Mar 5, 2019, 2:04 am IST
Updated : Mar 5, 2019, 2:04 am IST

PM Modi hints more action to follow airstrikes in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI/File)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI/File)

New Delhi/Jamnagar: Furious over the Congress sniping over Rafale jets and the Balakot airstrike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday snapped at the Opposition party for questioning his statement that the presence of Rafale fighter jets would have given greater firepower to the IAF during the February 27 aerial engagement with Pakistan.

Mr Modi’s comment — that the country was “feeling the absence of the Rafale jets” during the airstrikes and “swarthneeti” (politics of self-interest) was to blame for it — has generated a round of sparring betw-een him and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The fresh row come at a time when the government and the Opposition are locked in a massive political row over the deal for procurement of 36 Rafale jets from France, with Mr Gandhi accusing the Prime Minister of corruption.

Addressing a rally in Gujarat’s Jamnagar on Monday, Mr Modi said, “Please use common sense; what I said was if we had Rafale at the time of airstrikes, then none of our fighter jets would have gone down and none of theirs spared.”

India lost one MiG-21 jet during the fierce dogfight in which one F-16 warplane of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was also shot down.

Last week at an event, Mr Modi had said that the country was “feeling the absence of Rafale” and the “entire country is saying in one voice today, what all could have happened if we had Rafale “

Mr Gandhi had then shot back tweeting, “Dear PM, have you no shame at all? You stole `30,000 crores and gave it to your friend Anil (Ambani). You are solely responsible for the delay in the arrival of the Rafale jets.

(It is because of you) brave IAF pilots like Wing Cdr. Abhinandan, are risking their lives flying outdated jets.”

On Monday, Mr Modi said, “I said if Rafale was acquired in time it would have made a difference (during the February 27 dogfight), but they (Opposition parties) say Modi is questioning our Air Force strike...”

“If they (Opposition) don’t understand me what can I do. They have their own limitations,” he told the audience during his 40-minute speech rendered in Gujarati.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa declined to comment on the Prime Minister’s statement that Rafale jets would have made a difference, but told reporters in Coimbatore that the Rafale fighters should come into India’s inventory by September.

At an event in Ahmedabad, Mr Modi indicated that last week’s airstrikes in Pakistan won’t be India’s last such action against terrorism emanating from the neighbouring country.

“If one work gets over, our government doesn’t sleep, but gets ready for another,” Mr Modi said, in a veiled reference to the February 26 airstrikes on JeM terror camp in Balakot.

Lashing out at statements from Opposition party leaders who demanded proof of the February 26 airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot, Mr Modi said his objective was to end terror while that of the Opposition was to remove him.

“The root of terrorism disease is in the neighbouring country, should we not cure the disease from its roots,” he said.

Assuring a strong response to Pulwama terror strike, Mr Modi said, “Even if mentors of those seeking to destroy India are outside, this country won’t sit quietly.”

BSP chief Mayawati attacked Mr Modi for his remarks on Rafale jets, asking why the BJP government at the Centre did not induct even one of these fighters into the IAF during its tenure.

“Rafale fighter could have proven useful in fight against Pakistan, claims PM Modi in his rallies. Even then not a single Rafale inducted into IAF fleet during his government’s tenure. Better explain to people why this kind of lapse and neglect even by the BJP on the issue of countrys safety and security?” Ms Mayawati said in a tweet.

The Congress on Monday sought an apology from the Prime Minister for politicising the airstrikes and also belittling the IAF.

Senior Congress leader R.P.N. Singh while addressing a press conference said, “There is the Prime Minister, who says that the Air Force would have been much stronger if we had Rafale (fighter jets). We would like the Prime Minister to apologise for saying that... The Prime Minister has tried to show that the Air Force is weaker because it does not have Rafale.”

“We would like him to apologise for saying so because the Indian Air Force has always protected our skies and given a befitting reply, whenever it has been attacked by the Pakistanis,” he said.

Tags: narendra modi, rafale deal, balakot airstrike
Location: India, Gujarat, Jamnagar