Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday rejected allegations of political vendetta behind recent Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate raids on opposition leaders and said that the agencies which are autonomous, were acting on their own inputs.
In a wide-ranging interview to ANI, he scoffed at Congress President Rahul Gandhi for calling the BJP’s manifesto the ‘voice of an isolated man’ and claimed that India in its history had never seen such a participation in framing of a poll document.
With days to go for the start of the Lok Sabha polls, the home minister took questions on a range of issues including politics, Jammu and Kashmir and Balakot air strikes.
Asked about I-T and ED raids, Singh said, “The agencies which are conducting raids, are autonomous bodies. The Model Code of Conduct does not apply to them. They are acting on their inputs. How can we stop them? It is unfair to hold the government responsible for the raids. This is an ongoing process. Agencies act on their own intelligence inputs.”
He made it clear that central agencies will take necessary action to stop the use of unaccounted money in the ensuing elections.
During the interview lasting over half-and-hour, Singh, who headed the BJP’s manifesto committee, said, “I believe that when it came to the creation of Sankalp Patra (manifesto), India in its history had never seen such participation of people. Whatever he (Rahul Gandhi) is saying is baseless and he keeps saying such things. Do not take it seriously.”
In a tweet on Tuesday morning, Gandhi had said, “The Congress manifesto was created through discussion. The voice of over a million Indian people. It is wise and powerful. The BJP manifesto was created in a closed room. The voice of an isolated man. It is short-sighted and arrogant.”
To a question on Jammu and Kashmir, Singh asserted, “Kashmir is, was and will always be an integral part of India and thus it cannot have its own prime minister.”
“There cannot be two prime ministers in the country. It is absolutely clear in our election manifesto that if we form government, Article 370, Article 35A will be removed,” he told ANI.
The home minister’s comments came almost a week after former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in a speech in Kashmir’s Bandipora, pitched for the revival of the posts of Prime Minister and President for the state.
When asked about Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah’s statements that tampering with Article 370 and 35A will not bode well for India, Singh said, “This is their frustration, let them speak what they want. We will go ahead and do what we have to do”.
Replying to a question on the charge that BJP made false promises during the 2014 Lok Sabha poll, he stated, “Bilkul nahi kaha tha ki Rs 15 lakh aenge. Ye kabhi nahi kaha tha (We never said that Rs 15 lakh will come (to accounts of people). This was never said. We had said that we will take action against black money. Action is being taken against black money. It was our government which made SIT to crackdown on black money.”
Days after BSP supremo Mayawati appealed to the Muslim community to vote for the BSP-SP alliance and not for Congress, Singh said that politics should not be carried out on the basis of “caste, creed and religion”.
“It is very unfortunate (what Mayawati said). Politics should not be done on Hindu-Muslim basis. Politics should not be done on the basis of caste, creed and religion. Our (BJP) politics is not on the basis of caste, creed and religion. It is based on justice and humanity. We never say only Hindus should vote for us and not Muslims or vice versa. In a healthy democracy, you can’t even imagine this.”
On February 26 IAF strike in Balakot in Pakistan, the home minister said that India had carried out the action with utmost caution and responsibility to ensure only terrorists were impacted and no civilian was harmed.
He underlined that India had no intention to cause civilian casualties or get into a direct confrontation with Pakistani forces while carrying out air strikes on Balakot.
“Indian Air Force only attacked terrorist camps. We made sure that there should be no attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty and integrity. We did not kill any innocent human in our strikes. We only attacked terrorist training centres,” he added.
The home minister emphasised that it is not fair to raise questions in a democracy and there is no harm in asking for details or proof from a government with regard to actions taken by it but it is unfair to ask security forces to give evidence.
Responding to a question on why people are branded as “anti-national” and “tukde tukde” gang if they ask for proof on military operations, Singh said, “No one is termed anti-national for asking questions, we always give answers to relevant questions…Why should one ask for proof from the Indian Air Force, which only bombed the terrorist centre. Should they count bodies and give proof?”
On the issue of politicisation of armed forces, he said, “There should not be any politicisation of any system of the government and we never think of doing such a thing…Our Army, government systems belong to the country and not to any political party.”
Singh also noted that India’s surgical and air strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) were different from former Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani’s strategy of ‘hot pursuit’ against terrorists.
“It is not about hot pursuit or cold pursuit. We only targeted the terror training camps while carrying out the strikes in Pakistan. We did not attack innocent civilians during the strikes. Besides, the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan were also preserved,” he said.
Advani had stated in 2001 that ‘hot pursuit’ against terrorists was legitimate and in accordance with international law.