Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday over a retired army officer's remarks that it would have been better if the 2016 surgical strikes were carried out secretly, alleging that the PM used the military action for "political capital".
Lt Gen. (retd) D S Hooda, responding to a question during a panel discussion at the Military Literature Festival in Chandigarh Friday, had said in hindsight, it would have been better had "we done it (surgical strikes) secretly".
Hooda was the Northern Army commander when Indian troopers carried out the surgical strikes on September 29, 2016 across the Line of Control as a response to a terror attack in Uri earlier that month.
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said: "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. #SurgicalStrike (sic)."
Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala thanked Hooda for "exposing the petty politicisation by PM Modi".
"No one can use the valour & sacrifice of our brave soldiers to score cheap political points. Modiji is squarely guilty of compromising National Security & Strategic Interests by unwarranted chest thumping!" he wrote on Twitter.
Hooda had also said the initial euphoria about the success of the surgical strikes was natural but the constant maintenance of the hype around the military operation was unwarranted.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, at a press conference here, alleged that "this government is guilty of the most crass and cheap politicisation of the Army".
"Anonymity of the army is its biggest strength and it was maintained by every government except this one. But we are grateful that some amount of truth is coming out, and it is coming out at the highest level," he said.
Meanwhile, army's Northern Command Chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said that rhe 2016 surgical strikes were a successful tactical operation which conveyed a clear message to Pakistan to stop any misadventure along the Line of Control.
"From military point of view, these were successful tactical operations, which conveyed a very strategic message and the Indian Army was able to convey a very clear message to Pakistan that should they not stop any kind of misadventure along the LoC, they shall be given befitting reply," Singh told reporters in Punjab's Kapurthala on the sidelines of his visit to Sainik School, his alma mater.
The then Director General of Military Operations, who had announced the operation at a press conference, refused to comment on the politicisation of surgical strikes.
Singh said all actions carried out by the army along the LoC were carried out in an extremely professional manner to meet the national aspirations and achieve the military objectives.
He said there are many other options to check infiltration of terrorists from across the border.
Surgical strike is only one of the options through which we stop infiltration. The armed forces have a range of options and they are being analysed at all times and the best course of action is put into effect, he said.
Responding to a question about possible attempts to revive militancy in Punjab, Singh said Pakistan was trying to extend the "arc of terrorism" beyond Kashmir and the Army was taking all measures to arrest the spread.
The armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir are fully capable of carrying out any task, he said.
This, he said, is the reason that the situation in the state is completely stable.
If any untoward incident takes place, the armed forces act quickly to restore peace and stability, he added.