Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also launched an attack on the Congress for taking dogs at PM Narendra Modi.
Ahmedabad: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday asked if former prime minister Indira Gandhi can be credited for liberating Bangladesh from Pakistan, why should not Prime Minister Narendra Modi be credited for the Balakot air strike.
Singh was addressing a rally here in support of BJP president Amit Shah, who filed his nomination from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency later in the day.
"It was the bravery of our forces that they divided Pakistan into two parts. One remained Pakistan, while Bangladesh was formed (out of the other)," he said.
"After the war, our leader AB Vajpayee praised Indira Gandhi in Parliament. She was also praised all over the country," Singh added.
Referring to the Pulwama attack, the Home Minister said, "When our 40-42 CRPF soldiers lost their lives in a fidayeen attack, Modiji gave a free hand to our forces."
"If Indira Gandhi can get the credit of dividing Pakistan in 1971, why shouldn't Modiji get the credit for what he has done in Balakot," Rajnath asked.
"If our Prime Minister has shown such strong willpower to avenge the terror attack on our CRPF jawans, then I would like to ask you why our Prime Minister should not be praised?" he questioned.
Singh hit out at the Congress for not carrying out similar retaliatory action after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008.
"The Congress was in power when 26/11 attack took place in Mumbai. And they (Congress-led UPA) could do nothing against Pakistan. When political power and military might go hand in hand, then I can assure you that no power in the world can challenge the might of our military," he said.
He asked the people to "punish" Congress president Rahul Gandhi for making allegations of corruption against the PM.
"Who will deny the fact that India's respectability in international fraternity has grown. We all accept the truth that India's leadership is in strong hands. But the irony is that the leader of our opposition party and Congress national president abuses our prime minister. I appeal to the people through this event to punish that political party which abuses our PM," he said.
"You have seen earlier governments. In the past five years, no one can dare say there is a blemish of corruption on PM Modi or any of his ministers," the home minister claimed.
Taking on the Congress' "chowkidar chor hai" jibe, Singh said, "Congress national president Rahul Gandhi says 'chowkidar chor hai'. The chowkidar is not a chor, he is pure, his re-election as PM is sure, and for all the country's problems, he is the cure."
He said under Modi, the country was now the sixth largest economy in the world and would occupy fifth place in the fiscal beginning April 1.
"Who will deny the fact that India's respectability in the international fraternity has grown. We all accept the truth that India's leadership is in strong hands," he said.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, speaking at the same event, claimed whatever happened in the last five years under PM Modi's leadership "did not happen in 50 years".
"Amit bhai gets the credit of making the BJP the world's largest party. The NDA will certainly win in this election, and I am certain our government will come back under Modiji's leadership," Gadkari said.
"People understand that our government has not discriminated against anyone on the basis of caste, religion, creed or language," he said.
Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch and former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal showered praise on Shah, saying he is the country's "biggest organiser, campaigner".
"Amit Shah ji was the chief campaigner and organiser in the 2014 election when Modi was elected. If there is anybody other than Modiji who gets credit for the government getting formed, then it is Amit Shah," Badal said.
"Modiji made the country proud by taking the decision to conduct (aerial, surgical) strikes to crush militancy. This happened without any jawan getting harmed. This decisive nature belongs to Modi saheb's," Badal claimed.
"We pray to god that Modi saheb becomes the country's prime minister again by a huge majority, and Amit Shahji also contributes to it," he said.
Union minister and Lok Jantantrik Party head Ram Vilas Paswan said he will be happy if Shah breaks all the past records by winning with the highest vote margin.
"I became MLA in 1979, MP in 1977, winning from Hajipur (in Bihar) with the largest margin. I will be happy if you break all past records," he said.
Paswan said Modi's claims of a "Congress-mukt" country was coming true as the opposition party was nowhere to be seen.
"Gathbandhan has become lathbandhan as its constituents are fighting against each other. I can say with confidence that the NDA and the BJP will get more seats in 2019 than what they got in 2014," he said.
"When the press asked me three years ago, I had said there is no vacancy for the prime minister's post in 2019. They should prepare for 2024, and we will see them then," Paswan stressed.
He claimed that the NDA government was with the poor, and cited the memorials it had built for Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.