Had warned Pak of consequences if pilot not returned: PM
Patan, Apr 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he had warned Pakistan of consequences if it did not return Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.
Addressing a poll rally at Patan in Gujarat, he asserted his government's commitment towards national security and said whether the prime minister's chair remains or not, he has decided that either he will be alive or the terrorists.
He also took a jibe at NCP leader Sharad Pawar, saying if he is unaware of his next move, then how can Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gauge what he will do.
Modi urged the people of Gujarat to help the BJP win all 26 Lok Sabha seats in his home state, where polling will be held on Tuesday, and said if it does not happen, then there will be discussions on TV over it on the day of vote counting.
Following the air strike at Balakot camp in Pakistan, there was a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani fighter planes on February 27 in which the IAF wing commander was captured by the neighbouring country and released on the night of March 01.
He said after Abhinandan was caught, opposition started seeking a reply from him. "We held a press conference and warned Pakistan that if anything happened to our pilot, you will keep telling the world what Modi did to you."
"A senior American official said on the second day that Modi has kept 12 missiles ready and might attack and the situation will deteriorate. Pakistan announced return of the pilot, or else it was going to be a "qatal ki raat'," he said.
"This was said by America, I have nothing to say about this now, I will speak about it when the time will come," he said.
"The (PM's) chair remains or goes, I have decided that either I be alive or terrorists will remain alive," he said.
He said the air strike inside Pakistan was something people expected from him. "When Pulwama happened, what did the country expect Modi to do? Would you, would the country have pardoned me had I done what the Manmohan Singh government did after 26/11," he asked.
The country wanted something to be done, he said, adding that he had announced giving a free hand to the military. "They (Pakistan) made tight arrangements, but being the disciple of Lord Hanuman, our people conducted air strike and their story was over," he said.
Hitting out at the opposition parties, he said the Balakot strike made them uncomfortable. "Pakistan was repeatedly saying India bombed us, but people here were questioning if this was India's Balakot. They were proved false," he said.
Accusing the Congress of questioning the bravery of India's military force and doubting its action, he said, "Does any Congress leader ask for air strike proof? They have got the message to stop asking because people are getting angry. After the first and second phases of polls, they have forgotten to ask."
He also took a swipe at Pawar, who on Saturday said he was "terribly afraid" as to what Modi, who once called the NCP chief his mentor in politics, would do next. "Sharad Pawar says I don't know what will Modi do. If he is unaware of what Modi will do tomorrow, how will Imran Khan know?" he said.
He also attacked the Congress for not providing new howitzers to the Army since 1985 and said his government has arranged for artillery manufacturing at three factories in the country, one being at Hazira in Gujarat which manufactures K-9 Vajra Howitzer.
"Our Army will now get new howitzers regularly. We have made a howitzer that can strike Pakistan 48 km from Nadabet (in Gujarat bordering Pakistan)," he said.
Slamming the Congress, he said that since 1985, it did not care about securing Gujarat, a state bordering Pakistan, which needs Air Force, Army and Navy bases.
"A big air force station is taking shape near Deesa which will ensure safety of the entire state," he said, adding the factory at UP's Amethi will manufacture AK-47 assault rifles for the military and also export them.
"We are moving ahead with the promise to make India strong across land, water, air and space," Modi said, adding that the country was now capable of destroying a satellite.
"They (opposition) had problem with this also, saying the Model Code of Conduct was in force. Is there a code of conduct in such things? We are people who follow rules, but national security is a very important matter, and what India did made it the fourth superpower in the world.
"They even have problem with this. They don't understand where to take the country. We are moving ahead with a dream of a strong and prosperous India," he said.
He also appealed to people of Gujarat to make the BJP victorious. "It is the duty of people of my home state to take care of the 'son of the soil', give all 26 seats in Gujarat to me."
"My government will come back to power for sure, but if Gujarat doesn't give 26 seats (to BJP), the TV discussions on May 23 will be why it happened," he said.
He said the Congress ran the government for 60 years and the country reached 11th position in world ranking. "This chai-wallah, who only knew how much money to return for two cups of tea, brought India to sixth position in five years."
Modi said India was moving ahead keeping both security and the prosperity of poor in mind. "(Former PM) Manmohan Singh had said the first right on country's natural resources is of Muslims. Modi says this with assertion that the natural resources are first right of the poor, Dalits, exploited, deprived, Adivasis, without any discrimination," he added.