Taking umbrage at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that the Congress is lying about surgical strikes under the UPA government, the party on Friday said it has never used the strikes as election fodder and the statement is an abuse to the bravery of soldiers.

The Congress said Modi’s “shameless utterances” that surgical strikes were only on “paper” and Congress leaders thought of them like video games were a direct abuse to the indomitable courage and bravery of the soldiers.

“Tragically, Modiji has even faulted the statement of the then Army chief, General Bikram Singh on the surgical strike dated December 23, 2013. This reflects political bankruptcy of a prime minister when faced with an imminent defeat in the 2019 elections,” the party claimed in a statement.

At the rally in Rajasthan’s Sikar, Modi said a Congress leader had claimed four months back that three surgical strikes were conducted during the Congress’ term and now another leader is saying six surgical strikes were carried out by the party.

“The number increased from three to six in four months. By the time elections are over, this number would increase to 600. What does it matter when the strike is on paper! The Congress only speaks lies,” the prime minister said.

“I think such leaders play video games and perhaps enjoy surgical strikes thinking of it as some game,” he said.

In New Delhi, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel told reporters, “My blood is blood. Your blood is water. The strike that has been done by this government is genuine, but the strike that was done during the previous government, by soldiers and our air force, was it a surgical strike on paper only?”

He said that this is an insult of the soldiers who conducted air strikes under previous governments.

“In the Congress, we have always said that such operations were conducted by the armed forces. We have never tried to take credit. We have never used such strikes as election fodder. The way our soldiers’ martyrdom is being used currently, nothing can be more shameful than that,” he added.

The party said in the statement that after the surgical strike of September 28-29, 2016, and the air strike of February 25-26, 2019, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had hailed the armed forces for demolishing the terror infrastructure.

“The Congress has always stood resolutely with our brave armed forces. The great wars of 1947, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999 are a testimony of the heroism of our armed forces,” the party added.

Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma told the reporters, “Fifteen commandos died in Gadchiroli. Will the PM and Maharashtra CM answer why they are not giving funds, which forces asked for in 2014, to purchase special equipment that could have stopped the IED blasts?”

Fifteen policemen and a civilian driver were killed when Naxals blew up their vehicle in Jambhurkheda area of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra on Wednesday.

Talking about the 11 complaints filed by the Congress against the PM and BJP president Amit Shah, Sharma said that the Election Commission is ignoring even the reports filed by the chief electoral officers of the states where the speeches were made.

“These decisions in the EC are not unanimous. There are two opinions even in the EC itself,” he said.

According to a media report on Friday, the EC’s decision to give a clean chit to PM for his appeal to first-time voters by invoking the Balakot air strikes in Latur on April 9 and his “minority-majority” speech at Wardha on April 1 was not a unanimous one.

“The prime minister and the ruling party’s president are continuously violating the code of conduct. No action is being taken and because of this, it can be said that the EC is not capable of fulfilling its constitutional responsibility,” Sharma alleged.