Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar alleged that some former Prime Ministers had compromised the country's "deep assets" on national security but refrained from naming them. Parrikar said he did not give details about Coast Guard operation involving a boat coming from Pakistan as the "source (of information) might be compromised".
"After all, you have to build deep assets. Deep assets are created over 20-30 years. Sadly, there were some prime ministers who compromised deep assets.
"I am not going to disclose names. Many people know," Parrikar said after releasing a special issue of the Hindi weekly Vivek, on national security.
Taunting the Congress for demanding evidence on the recent Coast Guard operation against a Pakistani vessel carrying suspected terrorists, he said, "There was demand for giving proof (that it was a Pak terror vessel). Tomorrow, during such operation we will take along a (media) cameraman and also the Congress spokesperson.
"However, now a days nothing can be said with certainty as Congress spokespersons say good things about Modi government," he said taking a swipe at Janardhan Dwivedi.
Parrikar said there were differing perceptions between India and China on the Line of Actual Control.
"We have not taken the issue of border security seriously. Tomorrow if war were to take place and at the same time if there were riots in some parts of the country, it would be difficult (situation)," Parrikar said.
Highlighting the need for media to exercise restraint on sensitive issues like terror attacks, Parrikar compared the TV coverage of recent Paris terror attacks and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
"In Paris, not a single body was shown and not a drop of blood was seen on TV. Contrast this to our live coverage. I am not criticising but we should have this sense," he said. Similarly the real reason for what happened after Godhra incident in 2002 was the disturbing photos shown (by media)," Parrikar said.
"Tomorrow somebody may file a PIL complaining that the decibel level of firing on the border exceeds 140 decibels after 10 pm norms and that it disturbs their sleep," Parrikar said. "The only exception is loudspeakers atop certain holy places where nobody objects even if the loudspeakers blare till 1 am," he said.
Parrikar said he plans to send Defence Ministry officials to border for 15 days to sensitize them on hardships faced by armed forces. "Then maybe several files will be cleared fast," the Defence Minister said.
Reacting indignantly to Parrikar's charges, Congress leader Manish Tewari said if the former has evidence to prove his claims, he should make it public, or else tender a public apology.
"If the Defence Minister has evidence to prove that an ex-PM had compromised on national security, then he should make it public. If not, then Defence Minister should tender a public apology for levelling such grave charges," Tewari told ANI.
Congress leader PC Chacko, however, asked Parrikar to clarify things so that there are no unnecessary complications. "Manohar Parrikar must be more straightforward and clarify things, otherwise this will lead to unnecessary complications," said Chacko.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, defended Parrikar's claims by stating that it was a matter of fact that many Congress leaders had compromised national security.
"The Defence Minister is an extremely responsible leader, his statement certainly has a lot of context and one should wait for further details. But it is a known fact that many Congress Prime Ministers have compromised on national security," said party spokesperson G V L Narsimha Rao.
Another BJP leader Nalin Kohli added that the "Defence Minister speaks in the interest of the nation, when he speaks there would be facts, substance, gravitas behind it."
"We call upon the Defence Minister to place all these facts with all evidence in public realm so that people of India know what he is saying," Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala told ANI.
"An extremely serious and grave charge has been leveled by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. We hope Defence Minister knows the seriousness of the charge and he is making it responsibly unlike the shoot and scoot policy that the Bharatiya Janata Party is known to follow. Level an allegation, have no evidence to establish it, runaway from it and take a u-turn," he said.
Surjewala further said that the Defence Minister's accusations "either mean strategic assets of the armed forces were compromised or the intelligence assets were compromised by a Prime minister." "In case, Defence Minister is also passing these remarks as off-the-cuff remarks then it is the extreme height of irresponsibility and Defence Minister must withdraw the remarks and express appropriate regrets to the nation," he added.