On 29 September, the world at large was informed that India had conducted surgical strikes by crossing the Line of Control and tackling terrorists. The move was hailed as a success and before you knew it, everyone had an opinion.
Uddhav Thackeray said that Narendra Modi fought with Pakistan like a “mard (man)”. The Art of Living Foundation’s Sri Sri Ravishankar said that terrorists has been shown their place and that he “would also congratulate our prime minister. It shows that peace needs to be protected not only through shaastra (scriptures) but also shastra (arms).” Amit Shah, BJP supremo called the surgical strike a “frontal fight against terrorism”.
Those in the government did make statements about the attacks; Venkaiah Naidu, urban development minister said that Pakistan is “like a thief bitten by a scorpion and cannot even cry.” But these were few and far between. All except one member of government.
If there is one person in the Modi Cabinet who has had plenty to say on the subject, it’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Modi had strictly ordered his Cabinet and party members to not make stray comments about the surgical strikes and that only those with authority should speak on the matter. “Only those authorised and when specifically directed to speak on the matter should do so,” sources have quoted the prime minister as saying.
In his first statement after the attacks, Parrikar had said that “anyone who casts an evil eye on the country would not be spared”. Parrikar further said that Pakistan had been stunned into silence after the surgical strikes and was in a comatose condition. “Pakistan is like a patient who has been put under anaesthesia before an operation,” he said as people clapped in agreement.
In the most recent statement, on Monday, 18 October, twenty days after the strikes, Parrikar said that the RSS ideology inspired Modi and him to carry out the strikes across LoC. The minister said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh teachings were at the back of his mind and that of the prime minister while ordering the surgical strikes on the terrorist launch pads.
It was not possible that a prime minister from the land of Mahatma Gandhi and a defence minister from Goa with a common RSS orientation would not take such a strong decision, he said. The minister was addressing students and teachers of Nirma University here during a ‘Know Your Army’ programme in Ahmedabad. ” “I wonder that a prime minister from land of Mahatma Gandhi and a defence minister from Goa and surgical strikes… maybe the RSS teachings was there, but this was very different kind of a combination,” he said, as reported by Firstpost.
At another event, Parrikar said that a major share of the credit goes to the prime minister. “For myself, I would 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 also said that the 29 September operation was carried out by the Indian Army and not a political party. “I think that should settle the nerves of many people I understand quite well, because I am a politician… I understand peoples’ sentiments are satisfied and when population is satisfied, ‘Wo khuda jaisa hi hota hai, chhappar phad ke deta hai‘ (they are like gods, they give in abundance),” he said.
Parrikar also compared the Indian Army with Lord Hanuman of Ramayana, Parrikar said as the deity was reminded of his strength before going to Lanka, “I reminded our army of their powers and they did the job brilliantly. I congratulate the soldiers of special forces on behalf of the entire country,” he said in Dehradun. “Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes,” Parrikar had said.
Parrikar’s chest-thumping didn’t sit well with many as Goa Congress spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar said that “Parrikar is a defence minister with verbal diarrhea. He should speak less, act more, respect the forces and equip them. Our armed forces are strong enough to hit hard. Don’t undermine them with your political pitch.”
Soon after the surgical strikes, Manohar Parrikar was supposed to participate in a victory rally in Goa — the state BJP’s plans to accord a hero’s welcome to Parrikar for choreographing the surgical strikes across the Line of Control. But this was cancelled as the move drew ire from political parties and prominent personalities. Probably for the best.