Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday criticised the Opposition’s response to the recent cross-border tensions, and claimed some parties, “guided by Modi-hatred”, have started “hating India”.

The Opposition has criticised Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party for continuing its election campaigning amid tension with Pakistan. On Thursday, Opposition leaders issued a joint statement, expressing anguish over the BJP’s “blatant politicisation” of the sacrifices made by the armed forces.

Modi laid foundation stone and inaugurated several development projects in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari. Addressing a rally, Modi said every Indian is proud of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured on Wednesday after his aircraft went down in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani aircraft. The pilot will be released via the Wagah border near Amritsar on Friday evening.

“I am proud that India’s first woman defence minister is from Tamil Nadu,” Modi said. “It makes every Indian proud that the brave Wing Commander Abhinanadan is from Tamil Nadu,” Modi said.

The Youth Congress was quick to point out that Indira Gandhi, and not Nirmala Sitharaman, was the first woman defence minister of the country. Sitharaman, however, is the first woman to independently run the defence ministry.

The prime minister claimed “nothing had happened” after the terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, and compared it with the action taken after the Uri attack of 2016 and the Pulwama terror attack last month. A Congress-led government was in power at the time of the Mumbai attacks.

“A few parties, guided by Modi hatred, have started hating India,” Modi said. “No wonder, while the entire nation supports our armed forces, they suspect the armed forces. The world is supporting India’s fight against terror but a few parties suspect our fight against terror.”

Modi said: “[Mumbai terror attacks] happened, India expected action against terrorists but nothing happened. When Uri and Pulwama happened, you saw what our brave soldiers did. I salute those who are serving the nation.”

Modi said the upcoming General Elections was about offering strength against vulnerability, PTI reported. “The 2019 Lok Sabha elections have two distinct sides,” Modi said. “Our side offers strength and stability. The other offers weakness and vulnerability. Our leaders’ work culture is known across India. But the other side is in confusion. They have no name to offer as national leader and have no vision for India’s growth,” he said.

Modi said the NDA government took historic steps against corruption by shutting down fake companies. “The corrupt has to answer. The famous recounting minister, who took pride in treating badly, insulting the middle class, has to apply for bail just like his party’s first family,” he said in a reference to former Union minister P Chidambaram.

Modi criticised the Congress, saying the party was promoting an economic culture which benefited friends and family members of “a big dynasty”.

India and Pakistan on Wednesday claimed that they had shot down each others’ fighter jets, a day after the Indian Air Force had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. India said Pakistan had attempted to target military installations in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday and confirmed that a pilot of its Air Force was missing in action after the operation.

The Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed.