Sam Pitroda, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s close confidant and Chairman of Indian Overseas Congress, defended his controversial remarks on the IAF strike on Balakot saying that he has a right to know the facts as a citizen of India.

“I am not talking as a party. I am asking as a citizen. I am entitled to know. Why can’t I raise a question on the government’s claim? As a citizen, in democracy, discussion, dialogue, debate, discourse is a way of life,” he told ANI as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashing out at the 76-year-old for his remarks.

“I don’t understand the controversy here. I am baffled at the response. This shows how people react to trivial matters in India. It is a totally trivial matter. A citizen is just asking a question,” he stressed.

Earlier today, Pitroda raised questions on the attack and the claim that 300 terrorists had been killed.

“I would like to know more as I have read in New York Times and other newspapers, what did we really attack, we really killed 300 people?” he asked, adding, “If you say 300 people were killed, we all need to know that; all Indians need to know that. Then comes the global media which says nobody was killed. I look bad as an Indian citizen.”

Pitroda also batted for a dialogue with Pakistan saying that “just because some people came here and attacked, every citizen of that nation (Pakistan) is to be blamed”.

Referring to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people, Sam Pitroda further said, “Eight people come and do something, you don’t jump on an entire nation. It is naive to assume that just because some people came here and attacked, every citizen of that nation is to be blamed. I don’t believe in that way”.

He also said that “attacks happen all the time, it also happened in Mumbai”, adding that the government could have then reacted and just sent fighter planes, but that is not the right approach”.

The PM posted two tweets slamming Pitroda.

“Loyal courtier of Congress’ royal dynasty admits what the nation already knew – that the Congress was unwilling to respond to forces of terror,” he tweeted, adding, “This is a New India- we will answer terrorists in a language they understand and with interest!”

In another tweet the PM urged the people of India to take the Opposition to task for such comments.

“Opposition insults our forces time and again. I appeal to my fellow Indians- question Opposition leaders on their statements. Tell them 130 crore Indians will not forgive or forget the Opposition for their antics. India stands firmly with our forces,” he tweeted.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley took a dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi over Pitroda’s comment.

“Agar Guru aisa ho to shishya kitna nikamma niklega ye desh ko aaj bhugatna pad raha hai. (If the teacher is such then the student will obviously be useless – this is what this country is suffering today.),” he said in New Delhi.