By Anurag Dey
New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) With the BJP expected to raise pitch over the IAF strike across Line of Control in the terror camp of JeM, there are apprehensions among sections of opposition that it could change the narrative and the focus may not be as much on the “shortcomings” of the government in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
They said the issue of national pride could put other issues such as unemployment, agrarian crisis and the Rafale deal on the backburner.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) action, coming on the 13th day after the bloody Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF troopers, has people gloating about the Modi government’s befitting response to Pakistan.
As the news of of the strike at the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) biggest training camp at Balakot in Pakistan trickled in, from the commoners to the celebs from varied fields, all hailed the move while the BJP social media ecosystem went into overdrive to endorse and drum beat India’s unprecedented action.
Political observers say the Modi government’s dare has firmly put the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the driver’s seat for the polls, which has seen the opposition parties closing ranks to put up a united front against the saffron brigade.
Professor Sandeep Shastri of the Lokniti network said Tuesday’s IAF strike was the base on which the BJP can take its image building forward but the pressure on Pakistan has to be maintained to sustain the momentum.
“The fact that the opposition came out saying they supported the move even before the government saying anything is indicative of the impact of the strike on the political arena. But what is important is how far the government is able to sustain the pressure on Pakistan,” Shastri told IANS.
“The Modi government very skillfully pushed aside issues like agrarian distress, economic crisis without making it political. It will be difficult for the opposition to counter the narrative of national pride,” said Shastri, who is also Vice Chancellor of Jain University Bengaluru.
Having faced severe backlash from the BJP over the September 2016 surgical strikes, the Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress came out hailing the Tuesday’s military action but limited themselves to crediting only the IAF.
Both Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to twitter to “salute” the IAF’s bravery indicating their intent to tread cautiously.
“The approach has to be cautious as any wrong move can prove very costly,” a Congress leader told IANS.
“The nation has seen how Modi still continues to use the 2016 surgical strikes to derive political mileage. He is a master propagandist and there is no stopping him from marketing this action to the hilt during the general elections,” he said adding that the party leadership was working on its plan of action to counter the narrative.
The Congress had also raised fingers on the Modi government over the Pulwama attack but it changed its track soon after Gandhi vouched the entire opposition’s support to the government over the issue and asserted of pausing raising politically contentious issues as mark of respect for the 40 martyrs.
Congress leader and former union minister K. V. Thomas, however, said that the strike “was nor related to elections”.
“We fully support our Air Force for their action that came days after the Pulwama terror attack. Whatever action our forces take, we fully support them,” Thomas told IANS.
At a rally on Tuesday, BJP President Amit Shah on Tuesday sought to project Modi government as strong and decisive and said it can go to any extent to defend the country. He said Modi is the only world leader who has strong determination and zero tolerance policy against terrorism.
“In response to Uri, we did surgical strike against Pakistan and now for the self-defence we conducted air strikes. These two attacks have given a message to the world that Indian government can go to any extent to defend itself,” Shah said.
(Anurag Dey can be contacted at [email protected])