Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda on Monday asked former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop repeatedly insulting the Indian forces and questioning their valour. Nadda also accused Singh of “abjectly surrendering” significant portions of Indian land to China, and claimed that the former prime minister had presided over 600 Chinese incursions between 2010 and 2013.

This came after Singh, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that the sacrifices of 20 Indian personnel killed during a face-off with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh on June 15 cannot go in vain. Singh referred to Modi’s comments on the border that the prime minister made at Friday’s all-party meeting, and said he must “always be mindful of the implications of his words”.

“Dr Manmohan Singh belongs to the same party [the Congress] which helplessly surrendered over 43,000 km of Indian territory to the Chinese,” Nadda said in a tweet. The BJP chief accused the Congress of belittling the Indian forces, and claimed that the country saw “abject strategic and territorial surrender without a fight” during the years when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power.

“Singh can certainly share his wisdom on many subjects but the responsibilities of the office of the Prime Minister isn’t one of them,” Nadda added. “[The] UPA personified systematic institutional erosion of that office, combined with disrespect for our armed forces. NDA has reversed that.”

In his letter to Modi, Singh had said that the country must stand together as a nation and be united in response to “this brazen threat”. Nadda, however, hit back and said these strong words on paper fall flat “when we see exactly who is vitiating the atmosphere of unity”.

Nadda also termed Singh’s statements as wordplay, but added that “sadly, the conduct and actions of top leaders of the Congress party will not make any Indian believe such statements”. “Remember, this is the same INC [Indian National Congress] that always questions and demoralises our armed forces,” he said.

The BJP president said the Congress had also insulted the forces and questioned them after the air strikes and surgical strikes against Pakistan last year. “Please understand the true meaning of national unity, especially in such times,” he said. “It’s never too late to improve.”

On September 29, 2016, Indian Army’s then Director General of Military Operations Ranbir Singh said that the Army had carried out “surgical strikes on terror launchpads” across the Line of Control the previous night. Singh had said that the action was taken after receiving information about infiltrators planning to cross the LoC. The Congress had accused the Narendra Modi-led government and the Bharatiya Janata Party of using the armed forces and the 2016 surgical strikes for political gains.

In February last year, the Indian Air Force conducted the Balakot airstrikes in retaliation after at least 40 soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed in an attack on February 14. The Indian Air Force had bombed an alleged Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26, 2019.