Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday castigated the Congress for mocking him for conducting “shastra puja [weapon worship]” last week while receiving the first Rafale jet from France, ANI reported.

“I wrote ‘Om’ on fighter plane [Rafale] and tied a ‘raksha bandhan’ to it,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said at an election rally in Haryana’s Karnal district. “Congress leaders started a controversy here...They should have welcomed that Rafale is coming here. Instead, they started criticising. Statements by Congress leaders only strengthen Pakistan.”

The minister pointed out that Christian say “Amen” and Muslims “Ameen”. The defence minister urged people to give the Opposition party a “befitting reply” in next week’s Assembly elections.

Singh said the Air Force would not have needed entered Pakistani airspace for striking a terrorist camp in Balakot, in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, had the Rafale jet been at its disposal. “We could have eliminated terror camps there, even while sitting in India,” the minister added.

In a warning to Pakistan, Singh said that “with utter politeness” he wanted to advise them to change their thinking. “Else Pakistan that was divided into two parts earlier, will now be divided into several parts,” he added in Haryana’s Pataudi town.

The defence minister also had words of advice for Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, NDTV reported. “If you are serious enough to fight against terror, we are ready to assist you,” he added. “If you want our Army, then we will send them there for your help.”

Ties between the two countries have been strained since India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status on August 5. The country has attempted to internationalise the dispute, downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and suspended bilateral trade. Imran Khan lashed out at India in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last month, and urged the international community to act.

“I was listening to Imran Khan’s speech where he had said that till Kashmir gets freedom, we will continue our fight over it,” Rajnath Singh said in Haryana. “He also said that his country will continue to raise the Kashmir issue at international forums. Forget about Kashmir. Don’t even think about it. Raise the matter, nothing will happen. No one can exert pressure on us.”

The defence minister advised Pakistan to honestly work to eliminate terrorism, and maintain brotherhood, Hindustan Times reported. “We are neighbours, we want to walk together,” he added at a rally in Sonipat. “If you do not fight terrorism honestly, I clearly state that India has the ability to fight fundamentalist forces.”

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