Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said India missed a "golden opportunity" during 1971 war to resolve Kashmir dispute by releasing hundreds of Pakistani troops from the Indian Army's custody "under global pressure".
Modi made the observation at an election rally here and said the then Congress government signed Shimla agreement (in 1972) "under global pressure" and released over 90,000 prisoners of war (PoW) instead of resolving the Kashmir dispute "in lieu of the PoW."
"Pak troops were in our custody. A big area of Pakistan was also captured by Indian forces during the 1971 war but the Congress government lost it on the table in Shimla agreement and they were released," he said.
"The government crumbled under the global pressure, signed the Shimla agreement and the matter was closed. The PoWs and the captured land were released. That was a golden opportunity to resolve the Kashmir dispute in lieu of the PoW," he said.
The prime minister said it was a trump card in the government's hand but the chance was lost and the entire country is facing its repercussions today.
Modi said it was the reason why Congress leaders do not want nationalism to be an issue.
The prime minister made the statement in the wake of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot highlighting in his recent election rallies the creation of Bangladesh by Indian armed forces after the division of Pakistan during the rule of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1971.
He also said India is no more afraid of nuclear threats of Pakistan.
"Otherwise, Pakistan used to give nuclear threats. What do we have? Have we kept it for 'Diwali'? (Warna aay din nuclear button hai, ye kehte the. Hamare paas kya hai? Ye diwali ke liye rakha hai kya), Modi asserted.
In an apparent reference to India's surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in September 2016 and its air strikes at a terror facility in Balakot in February this year, the Prime Minister said Indian forces killed terrorists across the border without engaging in a war.
"This is called a strong government. We have created fear among terrorist," the PM said.
Modi said his government trampled Pakistan's ego and "forced it to roam around the world with a begging bowl."
"Hamne Pakistan ki sari hekdi nikal di. Use katora leke dunia me ghumne ko maine majboor kar diya hai," he said.
The prime minister said the people are happy and think the Modi government has done the right thing but it is not the case with the Congress leaders and its alliance partners, who think otherwise.
He said his government fulfilled the long-pending demands since Congress rules like One Rank, One Pension for the forces and the National War Memorial in Delhi.
"There was a long-pending demand for a war memorial but the Congress built memorial for their family. They built 'Samadhi' for their family but did not build the war memorial in the memory of jawans who sacrificed their lives for the country, he said.
Referring to Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy's alleged statement that "those who are hungry and do not get two-time meals get into Army," Modi said it was an insult of jawans and their family members.
Targeting the previous Congress government in the Centre over alleged recurrence of scams in defence sector during their tenure and the lack of modern equipments and weapons for the forces, Modi said, Therefore they (Congress) do not want to talk about the national security.
The PM said there was no progress in the Rafale deal during the Congress rule and despite the MIG planes crashing repeatedly, they did nothing to acquire new fighter jets.
Referring to the issue of Pak refugees in India, Modi said as the Hindus who are in minority in Pakistan faced discrimination there, the government of India made efforts to get Citizenship Amendment bill passed to help them.
"This chowkidaar has also made efforts to get the citizenship amendment law passed for those having the faith in the country (Maa Bharati). The people of this country who chose to live in Pakistan at the time of partition .... started facing atrocities because their faith was different, he said.
The PM said efforts will be made to complete the long-pending work after the government formation on May 23.
Modi said the polls are "very important" also for those who are going to vote for the first time.
"I appreciate your dreams and am ready to sacrifice my dreams for yours, he added.