During her two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman asserted in Jammu on Tuesday that unlike the UPA, the BJP-led NDA government had given appropriate and befitting reply to every military or terrorist offensive from Pakistan.
Responding to a journalist’s question at a news conference, alongside Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Raj Bhavan, Sitharaman corroborated what the senior Congress leader and former Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari has written in his latest book ‘10 Flash Points; 20 years: National Security Situation Affecting India’. Tewari has opined that the UPA regime should have come up with a kinetic response to the terror attack on Mumbai on 26 November 2008.
“For a state (Pakistan) that has no compunctions in brutally slaughtering hundreds of innocent people, restraint is not a sign of strength; it is perceived as a symbol of weakness. There comes a time when actions must speak louder than words. 26/11 was one such time when it just should have been done. It, therefore, is my considered opinion that India should have actioned a kinetic response in the days following India's 9/11,” Tewari has written in the book which is scheduled to release on December 1.
“Decision of this nature during Prime Minister Modi’s time 2014 onwards are done with a clear headed leadership which takes the armed forces into confidence and addresses the issues whether it is Pulwama or Balakot. And I have myself come to Sunjwan (Jammu). Each one of these places, immediately after, the administration came to assist for itself and gave the armed forces the fullest right to take an appropriate decision at an appropriate time as a result of which you saw how India responded to such situations. Whereas which was completely absent during the UPA days. And that’s why in spite of such a blatant attack (on Mumbai) we have not had justice given to us (till) today”, Sithraman, previously the Union Defence Minister, asserted.
On 10 February 2018, Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists had carried out a suicide attack, on the 5th anniversary of Afzal Guru’s execution, on an Army camp at Sunjwan in Jammu and left 6 soldiers and a civilian dead and 20 others injured before getting killed in the daylong encounter.
Replying to another question about the dissident Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks that the Modi Government was spending excessively on the defence, Sitharaman wondered if her government should have acted conversely. “It is important to protect the country. Doesn’t he (Aiyar) understand we need to protect the country? The Defence Ministry during the UPA Government was in hibernation. We are making for them,” she asserted.
According to Sitharaman, the BJP government’s biggest favour to the people of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogation of Article 370. It, according to her, removed obstruction in bringing in a transparent, accountable and democratised Government “which is now accountable for every one rupee used on the ground”. She said that within two years of abrogation of Article 370, the entire administration was now visible to every person of J&K to see what was going on in the government in the Union Territory.
“It cannot be a few families. The money of the people should go to the people and it should be a transparent process. That has been achieved in J&K. I have learnt from it during the last two days“, she said. She said that procurement, recruitment and spending of its resources, taxation and employment of resources, whatever be, by the Government, were now available online 24×7.
“The transparent process in recruitment even to the junior most levels has been completely rid of backdoor operations. In a state, where probably more than 5 lakh are Government employees, nearly 2.50 lakh are clearly backdoor people“, she said.
When it was pointed out to the Finance Minister that the unemployment rate had spiralled up to 22.2 percent as compared to the previous 4 percent, she said that several schemes had been launched by the Government to ensure employment to the youths. She said that Covid-19 had acted as a spoilsport across the world. She refused to accept that abrogation of Article 370 had derailed the UT’s economy in the last two years.
“To the contrary, post abrogation of Article 370, there is fervour to complete all pending projects in UT also. Today I was astonished to know that a project started in 1979 is getting completed now”, she said. “Today’s activities are far more than those which were never before”. She said all the money taken away from the banks would be taken back as the Government was actively pursuing the cases of loan defaulters and would not let them go scot-free, particularly those who have fled the country.
Sitharaman said the Central Government was working in close coordination with the J&K administration to ensure that not only the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) but also all other Centre-sponsored schemes would benefit every citizen.