Not one to miss the chance to target Modi, Gandhi tweeted that that the PM had “no shame in using our military as a personal asset.”
“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 (sic),” Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
The ‘Mr 36’ jibe is a twist to his usual ‘Mr 56 inch chest’ jab used to poke fun at the PM, and is an apparent reference to the 36 Rafale Jets.
At an event on Friday, General Hooda, who had led the surgical strike operations across the Line of Control as a response to a terrorist attack in Uri, said that while it was natural to have an initial euphoria over the success, the constant hype around the operation was unwarranted.
“Did the overhype help? I say, completely no. If you start having political resonance in military operations, it is not good. When military operations get politicised, that is not good,” he said.
The statement was largely seen as a rebuke to the ruling BJP, which has used the army strike in its poll speeches and had also celebrated ‘Surgical Strike Day’ on September 29 this year.
Gen Hooda, the Northern Army commander when the surgical strikes were carried out, also said the constant maintenance of “hype around the military operations was unwarranted”.
Responding to a question from the audience, General Hooda said in hindsight, it would have been better had we done it (surgical strikes) secretly. The aim of any such offensive had to be not only tactical but strategic too, which substantially hampers enemy morale, he said.
Gandhi, last week at a poll rally in Rajasthan, had claimed that the Army had conducted three surgical strikes during the UPA era but it was kept quiet at the force’s behest.
“Do you know that like Narendra Modi’s surgical strike, (former PM) Manmohan Singh did that three times? When the army came to Manmohan Singh and said we need to retaliate against Pakistan for what they’ve done, they also said we want it to be secret, for our own purposes,” the Congress president said.
He had also accused Modi of exploiting the surgical strikes to prevent defeat in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.