Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit has made the startling admission that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not as strong as his successor, PM Narendra Modi, in tackling cross-border terrorism.
The claim comes as a major embarrassment to the Congress party and would feed into the BJP campaign that only Modi can give India a strong and stable government.
The Delhi Congress chief was asked about the discourse revolving around national security in the run-up to the election, to which she said that India has always been safe.
But when asked about the criticism from some quarters that the UPA government did nothing in response to the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, the three-time Delhi CM accepted that “Manmohan Singh was not as strong and determined as Modi perhaps”.
But she added that that there is a feeling that Modi has taken action against Pakistan only with an eye on politics. She was referring to the IAF air strikes at a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot in Pakistan.
After her comment caused a political storm, she said in her defence to news agency ANI, "If something is taken out of context, I can't say."
The Prime Minister has repeatedly asked the voters to once again elect his “majboot sarkar”, invoking the Balakot air strike as well as the 2016 surgical strikes on terror camps across the Line of Control.
The Congress, on the other hand, has accused the BJP of politicising the air strikes and using the armed forces for its own electoral gains.
This is not the first time that Dikshit has made unfavourable remarks about Manmohan Singh.
She had earlier also questioned his handling of Commonwealth Games (CWG) and anti-corruption agitations launched by Anna Hazare in 2011. She had said she had also offered to resign but was persuaded against it by Sonia Gandhi aide Ahmed Patel.
On her relations with the then UPA government at the Centre, she had said, "To tell the truth, it was not always smooth going between our government and the Centre."