Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday clarified his earlier statement that had suggested the result of India’s strike on Pakistan last week would have been “different” if the Air Force had used Rafale jets. He claimed no Indian jet would have gone down in the aerial dogfight with Pakistani jets on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Modi had attributed the delay in procuring the jets to the self-interest and politics played by the Opposition. Congress President Rahul Gandhi had criticised Modi for his claim and had said the prime minister was the reason for the delay in the procurement of the Rafale jets. Earlier on Monday, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had said that all aircraft are capable of fighting the enemy.

On Monday, Modi responded to the criticism he faced following his statement. “I had said that if our Air Force had Rafale today, the result would have been different,” Modi said at an event in Gujarat’s Jamnagar. “But if someone cannot understand what I said, it is not my fault...they instead alleged that ‘Modi is questioning the Indian Air Force’.”

“Please use common sense, if our jawans had Rafale at the time of air strikes, then none of ours [fighter jets] would have gone down and none of theirs saved,” the prime minister said, as the crowd cheered “Modi, Modi”.

One Indian MiG-21 Bison was lost in the skirmish on Wednesday, India has said.

Modi further said: “The mantra of the Opposition is to join hands to finish Modi, but the country’s mantra is to join hands to end terror. Even if mentors of those seeking to destroy India are outside, this country won’t sit quietly.”

The prime minister said the entire nation agrees that the menace of terror has to be eliminated. “We should be proud of our armed forces,” he added.

Modi is in his home turf Gujarat for a two-day visit. In Jamnagar, Modi inaugurated various development projects, including a medical college campus. He will next visit Ahmedabad to inaugurate the first phase of the Ahmedabad Metro service.

Earlier on Monday, Dhanoa, responding to why the MiG-21 Bison was used to chase away Pakistani fighter jets, said the aircraft was an upgraded version and was capable of retaliation. “The Mig-21 Bison is a capable aircraft, it has been upgraded, it has better radar, air-to air missiles and better weapons system,” he said. “When the adversary attacks you, every aircraft available is used. All aircraft are capable of fighting the enemy.”

Modi also praised the BJP-led state government for following through with the construction of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Dam. “The dam has brought much relief to the people of Gujarat,” he said. “This project was completed despite neglect from earlier state governments and opposition from various quarters. I was certain that I cannot allow ‘tanker raj’ to carry on in Gujarat.”

He claimed that his government had helped revolutionise the health sector in Gujarat. “Hospitals with modern facilities are coming up across the state. This benefits the poor,” he said.

‘Pakistani newspapers publish Opposition’s remarks’

Modi also inaugurated the first phase of the Ahmedabad Metro on Monday. In a speech following the inauguration, he claimed that remarks made by Indian Opposition leaders are being published in Pakistani newspapers, ANI reported.

“The comments made by Indian politicians become headlines in Pakistani newspapers,” the prime minister said, targeting the Opposition. “The Pakistan Parliament is discussing them. Will you make remarks which Pakistan applauds?”

He said the Indian Armed Forces had shown courage, referring to the Indian Air Force’s strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot on February 26. “And I cannot keep waiting, it is my nature to hit back [against Pakistan],” the prime minister added.

Modi also said he has been unable to forget the terror attacks in Ahmedabad in 2008, in which 56 people were killed. “I will not spare the terrorists even if they live at the bottom of hell,” he said.