Modi’s ‘Strong’ Image at Stake
- It depends on India’s response to terror attack
New Delhi: The way Prime Minister Narendra Modi responds to the terrorist attack on an Army camp at Uri in North Kashmir would make or break his image of a strong man. The PM has been able to maintain an image of a formidable leader who would give fitting response to Pakistan if it dared to harm India. At Uri, four terrorist were shot dead after they killed 17 soldiers on Sunday. The 18th soldier succumbed to injuries on Monday.
Ever since Narendra Modi came to power after a high voltage election campaign and a record-breaking win in 2014 elections, there have been many instances of gross violation of peace and tranquility in Kashmir, Punjab and elsewhere by Pakistan-supported terrorists. Whichever party is in power, the same set of phrases are used in response to the attack by the terrorists. UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said, ‘India will give a fitting response’, ‘The perpetrators of terrorism will be punished’ or some such thing. The same phrases and sentiments were used by Narendra Modi in the wake of Uri carnage.
It is obviously very easy to talk of dealing with Pakistan when one is in opposition. Once in government, the response has to be measured and carefully calibrated. Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate of the BJP campaigning for 2014 elections repeatedly mocked at Manmohan Singh government for serving biryani to Pakistan PM who was abetting terrorist attacks on India killing soldiers. He famously told a gathering that late Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Sastry, said ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ but now Manmohan Sarkar says ‘Mar Jawan, Mar Kisan’. Sushma Swaraj, as a member of the opposition during the UPA rule ridiculed the government for dealing with Pakistan with kid gloves. Narendra Modi, after being PM for more than 30 months could not stop the jawans being killed by terrorist backed by Pakistan nor could he prevent the kisans from committing suicide. Neither India’s relations with Pakistan could be repaired nor could the crisis in the agriculture sector be resolved. The promises made by Modi in his election speeches would sound hallow if his deeds do not match his words.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh held an emergency meeting soon after the terrorist attack and named Pakistan as the culprit. Defence Minister Manohan Parrikar and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also attended the meeting. The Home Minister had several rounds of meetings with ministerial colleagues and top bureaucrats of the Central government. He asked the comity of nationss to name Pakistan a terrorist Country. Prime Minister had met with President Pranab Mukherjee and apprised him of the situation. He is reportedly toying with the proposal to write to the UNO asking the world body to declare Pakistan a terrorist country.
It was Modi’s overreach to the rebels in Baluchistan that had queered the pitch, according the opposition parties. The Congress and other parties, however, declared in no uncertain terms, that they are with the government when the national security is threatened, but the government should consult the opposition. Modi did not consult the opposition before talking about Baluchistan in his Independence Day’s message. He did not consider the option of raising the Baluchistan bogey and weighed the cost and the benefit.
The same old procedure is being adopted in dealing with Pakistan. The Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt General Ranbir Singh will hand over the evidence to Pakistani counterpart and take up this matter strongly with Pakistan.
The Pakistan, as expected, had denied, in a statement on Monday, any links with the attackers. It called India’s charge as ‘baseless and irresponsible accusation.’ A National Investigative Agency (NIA) had reached the spot soon after the incident and they will submit their report to the government soon.
Modi and his colleagues have been speaking the same language now that Manmohan Singh and the members of his cabinet spoke after the Mumbai attack. What is the difference that Modi could make? This question would be repeatedly asked till Modi does something tangible.