Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday expressed her displeasure on a question asked by a reporter in Madhya Pradesh over her government still ‘tom-tomming’ surgical strikes carried out two years ago.
Sitharaman, who was in Bhopal to campaign for the BJP, did not like the tone of the question and the alleged sarcasm and said that she understood Hindi very well. This was after a reporter asked the defence minister why her government was still tom-tomming the surgical strikes, carried out two years ago.
An angry Sitharaman replied, “I got hurt by the way…in a very sarcastic tone you asked the question.” “The word you used….’been bajaye (tom-tomming)…I understand Hindi,” news agency PTI quoted her.
Niramala Sitharaman is one of the many high-profile senior cabinet ministers, currently in the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh to campaign for the BJP. Sitharaman and her senior colleagues including BJP President Amit Shah have, time and again, invoked surgical strikes that the Indian army carried out in September 2016 by crossing over the LoC into Pakistan.
The reporter in question asked the minister if BJP leaders were doing a service to soldiers by extracting electoral mileage from the surgical strikes. Sitharaman replied, “We should be proud of the soldiers who laid down their lives for our motherland. We should be proud of them. Should we be ashamed of it?”
“Every citizen should glorify it. Should we be ashamed of attacking an enemy? They attacked our jawans with the help of terrorists. We targeted their (terrorists’) camp,” she added.
The BJP has often faced criticism for dragging the army and its military exercises during elections for political gains. The surgical strike carried out in 2016 wasn’t the first such military adventures by India. Several similar exercises had been carried out in the past even during the Manmohan Singh government, but never before a ruling party tried to explicitly use the issue of national security for political advantage.