The surgical strike by India deep inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir on September 29 has not only sent Pakistan into internal political and military chaos, it has also unnerved many in India on the political lines in the season of upcoming state assembly polls including Uttar Pradesh, the most vital state in the country’s electoral politics. If the BJP wants to gain electoral and political mileage from this long-pending decision(and therefore is morally right because it has shown the political will required), the opposition is trying all to paint the BJP in a selfish and immoral hue. Their sole focus is to paint a negative image for the BJP where it can be seen belittling the Indian Army and can be seen as scavenging on pride and valour of our armed forces for political gains.
Now which way the electoral tide will turn only time will tell but the ongoing war of words is throwing many interesting, contradictory and repulsive comments.
THE BJP WOULD OBVIOUSLY GO FOR FULL CREDITS.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has taken the charge from the BJP side. And his have been honest comments, even if some may question his language. He speaks emphatically about the surgical strikes, efficiency and might of the Indian Armed Forces, what it has done to Pakistan, those in India questioning it and the row over who should get the credit. From October 1 to 12, he gradually addresses all the issue as and when the questions are raised.
October 12: “I don’t mind sharing credits, including the surgical strikes, with every countryman because it is done by our Armed Forces and not by any political party. So all Indians, including those doubting Thomases, also can share the credit. As for myself, I will only share the credit at the most… the major share goes to the Prime Minister but the issue I will at least claim the credit (for) is decision making ability and planning. So I think that should settle the nerves of many people…,” Parrikar said, adding, “I understand quite well because I’m a politician though not a politician by profession… that people’s sentiments are satisfied.”
October 6: “It was a 100% perfect surgical strike. Even when bigger nations do surgical strikes, they are not as successful. No one had doubted bravery of our forces ever, but for the first time recently some people are doubting. There are many people who are not loyal to our country and criticized Indian army, but we don’t have to give them any proof.”
“Someone said that I am straight-forward (seedha-saadha). I think the Defence Minister should not be straight when it comes to ensuring the safety of the country. “In matters of the country’s defence, I can think tedha (wily).”
“People knew the army’s prowess. But a political decision needed to be taken. That has now happened under Modiji’s leadership. The mindset of the country has changed.”
October 1: “Pakistan’s condition after the surgical strikes is like that of an anesthetized patient after a surgery who doesn’t know that the surgery has already been performed on him. Even two days after the surgical strikes, Pakistan+ has no idea what has happened.”
“Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes. The surgical strikes gave our forces an idea of what they were capable of doing. Pakistan is bewildered following the strikes, not quite knowing how to react.”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has lent him some able support as reflected by his statements – putting India’s perspectives on a solid ground – be it the ‘how and why’ of the surgical strike or our political willpower or credentials of our armed forces.
October 11: “I want to welcome Modiji here as for the first time in the history of independent India he has succeeded in holding country’s head high at international level. He has succeeded in giving message to the world that Bharat is not weak but it’s a ‘damdar’ (powerful) nation. In last few days, we have displayed our strength. We have sent out a message to the world that India is a strong country.”
October 8: “Our heritage is ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ meaning the whole world is one family. We do not intend to occupy others’ land. We never open fire first, but if attacked, in retaliation we never count the bullets after pulling the trigger.”
October 2: “The country as well as the whole world is aware of this (surgical strikes)..the way our jawans displayed valour have made India proud.”
And like an efficient team-leader, Narendra Modi caps what his ministers and party members say even if doesn’t mention Pakistan directly. He even warns them to desist from indulging in ‘chest-thumping’ over the surgical strike.
October 9: “We will celebrate Vijaya Dashami in the coming days. This year’s Vijaya Dashami is very special for the country. Being strong does not mean being against anyone. If we exercise for our strength, then the neighbour need not worry (thinking) that it is to target him. I am exercising to strengthen myself and for my health.”
CONGRESS IS IN A STATE OF UTTER CONFUSION.
The party rushed to praise the surgical strike and show solidarity with the government. Sonia Gandhi issues a statement on September 29. Rahul Gandhi reacted on September 30.
Sonia Gandhi – September 29: “This is a strong message that conveys our country’s resolve to prevent further infiltration and attacks on our security forces and our people. The party hopes that Pakistan will recognize that it bears a great responsibility in the continuing cross-border terrorist attacks against India. The Party expects that Pakistan will take effective action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism that it has supported and it ensures that its territory and the territory under its control is not used for terrorist purposes against India.”
Rahul Gandhi – September 30: “I want to thank him (PM Modi) because for the first time in two and half years he has taken an action that is of the stature of PM. Modi has my full support; the Congress party and entire nation is standing by him.”
But it has been a downhill journey of contradictions and confusions since then. Some of its leaders like Digvijaya Singh or Sanjay Nirpuam are openly questioning the authenticity of the surgical strike, some others, including its many spokespersons, are busy asking for proofs, while some other are still not sure what to say. The common thread among them is that they all are asserting that many surgical strikes were carried out even during the Congress regime but the party never went to take credit as it showed political maturity. And since Congress has been silent on taking any action against motormouths like Nirupam, it shows doing so has tacit approval from the party because all such attempts are aimed at denying the BJP any political gain from the surgical strike.
Rahul Gandhi – October 6: “Humare jawan hai jinhone khoon diya hai, jinhone surgical strikes kiya, unke khoon ke peeche aap (Modi) chuppe huye hai (Our soldiers conducted surgical strikes and gave their blood. Modi is just hiding behind their sacrifices). Unki aap dalali kar rahe ho (trading over the blood of Indian soldiers).”
Like of the BJP leaders, even here the statements are self-explanatory.
P Chidambaram – October 12: “My stand is quite clear. I said, we support the government. We believe the Army and the DGMO. And whatever pre-emptive action the government of the day will take, as a responsible opposition, the Congress party will support the government. Now I said draw a line there, that subject is over.”
“There have been demands from quarters that evidence must be released. That is not questioning the Army action. That is a suggestion to the government so that we can call the bluff of Pakistan. Pakistan’s bluff has takers in some quarters, The New York Times, Washington Post, some sections of the social media, even that forgotten group called United Nations Observers Group. Therefore, to call Pakistan’s bluff, it is for the government to consider whether it would like to release any evidence. But I made it clear that’s a decision for the government to take. Whatever decision government takes, in that respect, Congress party will support that decision.”
On earlier strikes: “Quite rightly. Because the policy of the government of that day was strategic restraint and as part of strategic restraint we left such cross-border action to be handled by the Army at the operational, tactical level. We did not raise it to the government level. I believe UPA’s policy was right. But I am not saying that the present government cannot change that policy…Government has fuller information than any one of us. And, therefore, I concede the right of the government to adopt a modified policy. And, in fact, I go a step further and say after Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Pampore and Uri, any government could be expected to consider a modified policy.”
Kapil Sibal – October 7: “Please stop this poster baazi. Let the army do its job like it has been doing. Amit Shah has said his party will take this surgical strike to the people: this clearly shows they want to politicise the matter.”
BJP ALLIES HAVE REACTED AS PER THEIR COMPULSIONS.
Most of the BJP allies have owned the surgical strike except the Shiv Sena and the PDP. Even they have not criticised the step, but have exercised caution in praising the BJP (Shiv Sena) or reacting on the news itself (PDP). The Shiv Sena-BJP combine is going through a rough weather while the BJP-PDP combine is seen as an unnatural alliance.
Shiv Sena – Uddhav Thackeray – October 11: “After the strikes, I phoned Modi and told him, ‘Narendrabhai, this is the Narendrabhai we want as PM. Modi should now take such an action that not only PoK but entire Pakistan should be known as part of India. Those who said the strikes were fake have rotten brains and water of gutters of Lahore and Karachi and not blood flowing through their veins. Did Rahul Gandhi learn of the ‘khoon ki dalali’ from Bofors (scam)?” How can you show mistrust on Army while criticising Modi? Those who show distrust for our brave soldiers may be offspring of Pakistan.”
PDP – Mehbooba Mufti – September 29: “We in J&K have suffered immensely because of the violence and know very well its dangers and consequences. For the people of Jammu and Kashmir, peace along the borders and within the mainland is of immense significance and I hope the political leadership of the two countries would also treat it with the same spirit.”
SOME IN THE POLITICAL OPPOSITION, ESPECIALLY THE REGIONAL FORCES, SAW THEIR FUTURE COURSE IN DENYING THE BJP ANY SPACE.
Mayawati – October 10: “There is a feeling among people that this (the strikes) could have been delayed for taking political and electoral mileage. Instead of honouring its political leaders after the strikes, BJP should have felicitated the army for it. The credit for the strikes should go to the Indian army and not Narendra Modi.”
Akhilesh Yadav – October 10: Backing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s ‘dalali’ comments UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said Rahul must have made his comments after much deliberation – “Unhone ye bayan diya hai to kuch soch samajh ke diya hoga. Kuch jankari zaroor hogi.”
Akhilesh Yadav – October 6: “BJP makes up new words. What is surgical? War is a war, the villagers don’t understand ‘surgical’. It’s good that Indian army conducted surgical strike, but we still believe that dialogue is the best way to sort things out.”
Lalu Yadav – October 10: “BJP is falsely trying to take credit of brave acts of the Indian Army (for the successful surgical strikes on the launch pads of terrorists in PoK). The Army is known for its valour and it has given befitting reply to Pakistan’s attempts to push terrorists into the country and would do so in future as well. I am sure if the need arises, our brave Army would do a major surgery like this in future also.”
SOME LIKE NITISH KUMAR HAVE BEEN THERE FOR IT – RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING.
October 3: “The decision of surgical strike taken by the Centre is successful. Everybody knows that the Union Government is making foolproof arrangements to deal with such elements. Our Army and Paramilitary personnel who are deployed at the borders have the strength to deal with such situation.”
September 29: “We are proud of our Indian Army and we salute and appreciate their bravery and valour. We sincerely congratulate the Central government and our brave armed forces for the decisive action taken against terrorism.”
AND ARVIND KEJRIWAL, LIKE ALWAYS, HAS BEEN IN A DIFFERENT LEAGUE – UPS AND DOWNS – UNSURE OF WHAT TO SAY, WHEN TO SAY.
October 7: “I strongly condemn what Rahul Gandhi said about our jawans, this is a matter in which we all need to stand united. I pity Rahul’s mindset. There should be no politics on surgical strike and I am with Modi.”
October 5: Accused the BJP of playing politics over the surgical strike and questioning him for asking proof to counter Pakistan’s false propaganda.
October 3: “My blood boiled when I saw that report. There were reports being published by BBC and The New York Times questioning whether surgical strikes actually took place. Pakistan is trying to damage India’s reputation in the international community. I appeal to the prime minister: Unmask Pakistan’s false propaganda like the way you (Modi) and the army taught Pakistan a lesson on the ground. Unmask Pakistan’s baseless attempt to damage the reputation of India on the global forum. The entire country is with you. We are with you. I also appeal to the people to not fall for Pakistan’s false propaganda.”
All quotes, statements and observations have been taken from media reports.