Yes, that is the case right now in India and we are not going to see tempers coming down soon as Uttar Pradesh, politically most important state in India, is going to polls in some months and the BJP, the ruling party in the Centre, will go all out to win the war of perceptions by exploiting the political mileage associated with this military action.
And they are rightly entitled to do so. Wars (or cross-border surgical strikes) are never only military in nature in democracies like India. They need political sanctity and Narendra Modi’s government gave the Indian military this much needed sanctity this time – unlike the previous political establishments.
The opposition and BJP’s frenemies (like Shiv Sena) are fearing this. So, while frenemies are trying to make a sort of balance in appreciating this surgical strike while reminding the BJP of some other nagging (dragging) issue(s) at the same time, the rivals are going all guns blazing against Narendra Modi and his party, as if they are sworn like enemies – going to the extent that they are even badmouthing and namecalling the Indian Army in the process.
So much so that it is now being aptly called surgical politics.
Yes, in order to discredit the BJP and deny it the space it is looking for with the surgical strike, riding on the wave of patriotism and nationalism, the rivals are now busy in doing the surgery of the initial stand they had taken – of supporting the government.
Like Pakistan, except the teams in India that strategized and implemented the surgical strike, no one even in India had imagined that India would do it. So, as the initial reaction, they had nothing but to offer their whole-hearted support and they did so, except the Left Front. And the Left Front now doesn’t have much political currency left in India.
But the BJP had other plans and rightly so. The party decided to promote the surgical strike on national and international platforms. Every small and big leader of the BJP got busy in telling the nation that how it was a result of the efficient and impact leadership by Narendra Modi. There were tweets, Facebook posts, posters, banners, placards and voices. And as earlier said, the BJP was entitled to it.
Now everyone knows how the 2011 Osama bin Laden’s surgical strike helped Barack Obama in winning the second term in 2012 and that would be high on everyone’s mind here in India in these times.
So, as the BJP proceeded with its plans, coupled with increased desperation and panic in Pakistan, the rivals started seeing red. And when it was more than what they could have taken, they started resorting to means that could have denied the BJP this opportunity – even if it meant questioning the Indian Army credentials and terming the whole surgical strike a lie, like Sanjay Nirupam did, or asking for evidence like Arvind Kejriwal or P Chidambaram or Ajay Alok or many other did.
But their changing stands and statements say they don’t know how to proceed. So, while they are shouting over the top, their strategy looks quite muddled. A leader says it was fake. Another leader of that party says it wasn’t fake but the BJP should not politicise the matter. A leader says we need the evidence. Another leader of that party says providing evidence is the sole discretion of the government. Many voice, many stands, but no clear signal! And it is sending a very negative message about them. Because most of them are sounding phoney (and even outrageous).