Opposition slams Narendra Modi's claim on cloud cover during Balakot strike

Published: May 13, 2019, 14:31 IST | mid-day online desk

Narendra Modi in an interview said he used his "raw wisdom" to dispel doubts of defence experts who wanted the air strike to be rescheduled due to bad weather

Opposition slams Narendra Modi's claim on cloud cover during Balakot strike
Narendra Modi waves at his supporters during an election campaign rally for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, in Indore. Pic courtesy/PTI

New Delhi: Opposition parties, including the Congress, took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday over his remarks that cloud cover "helped" IAF planes evade Pakistani radars during the Balakot strikes, with some leaders terming the statement as "ridiculous and false". The CPI(M) has also moved the Election Commission alleging that Narendra Modi had revealed "operational details of a sensitive military mission" in a television interview with a purpose to influence voters. Rejecting the charge, senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, "PM Modi did not reveal anything (about the Balakot strike) he was not supposed to reveal."

In the interview to a private news channel aired on Saturday, Narendra Modi said he used his "raw wisdom" to dispel doubts of defence experts who wanted the air strike to be deferred due to bad weather. "The weather was not good on the day of air strike. There was a thought that crept in the minds of the experts that the day of strike should be changed. However, I suggested that the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars," Modi said while talking about the cross-border strike on terror camps in response to the Pulwama attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
Experts who did not wish to be identified said a radar can pick up signals even in adverse weather.

Giving details, Modi said that ahead of the strike, the government carried out a review of the operation at 9 pm and then again at midnight, when for a moment due to bad weather it was considered dropping the operation when experts, by and large, felt changing the date. Modi said he considered the aspect of secrecy and felt that the clouds could benefit and the movement was started at 1.30 AM. Keeping the satellite movement in mind, 2.55 am was considered the best time and at 3.20 AM he received the report that everything was fine and the operation was successful. The Prime Minister said Indian Navy played a part in the run-up to air strike, as naval ships carried out multiple movements before the air strike and Pakistan was very confused and actually thought an attack on Karachi which saw blackout for 3-4 days.

The prime minister's comment drew widespread condemnation from various quarters, including a large number of memes on social media. A number of Congress leader also hit out at Modi over his remarks. Congress spokesperson Rajeev Satav said, "Modi Ji, I totally understand that you are an expert in planning 'escape' operations including that of Nirav Modi, Mehul Bhai and Vijay Mallya as they were never on your radar. Your #EntireCloudCover remarks speak volumes about your understanding and knowledge of National security."

Another Congress spokesperson, Sanjay Jha, said, "Now (Finance Minister Arun) Jaitley will write a blog explaining the atmospheric decomposition of air particles that accentuates chemical metabolism resulting in a diabolical cloudburst that can conceal large aircraft's from being spotted by Tata Sky radars across the LoC." Congress social media head Divya Spandana said, "?We also have this amazing new and improvised 'radar' since 2014 to detect stupidity, lies, corruption, fudged data...how else do you think we detected a stealth one like you...Narendra Modi the radar to detect planes, cloud or no cloud has been there for decades. Even for the stealth ones. If not, other the country's planes would be crisscrossing the skies firing away at will... This is what happens when you're stuck in the past." National Conference leader Omar Abdullah took to Twitter and said, "Pakistani radar doesn't penetrate clouds. This is an important piece of tactical information that will be critical when planning future air strikes."
Taking a swipe at Modi, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister tweeted, "I was raked over the coals for questioning veracity of Balakot strikes. But seeing Pak media & journos troll PM on cloud gaffe is awfully embarrassing. BJP's ability to suspend logic in its quest to win another term is mind numbingly fatuous. Our armed forces don't deserve this."

CPI(M leader Sitaram Yechury termed the remarks as "shameful" and moved the Election Commission, demanding action against Modi for violating the model code of conduct. Yechury said Modi's words are "truly shameful". "Most importantly, because they insult our Air Force as being ignorant and unprofessional. The fact that he is talking about all this is itself anti-national; no patriot would do this.

"National security is not something to be trifled with. Such an irresponsible statement from Modi is highly damaging. Somebody like this can't remain India's PM," he tweeted. "Modi's ridiculous comments on radars, clouds and fighter jets have been deservedly mocked but the EC needs to act against him for invoking armed forces hours before the sixth phase of voting. Letter to EC asking for prompt and strict action on this flagrant violation," he said. In his letter to the EC, Yechury has alleged Modi's statements were in clear violation of the guidelines, reiterated by the poll body ahead of polling and making it clear that the armed forces, which belong to all of India, cannot be a subject for hyperbolic and false claims by any party.

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Edited by mid-day online desk with inputs from Agencies

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