“Why are they so frustrated?… Brothers and sisters, after seeing the Congress’s attitude towards the army, my belief is strengthened that the Congress never had any trust in the country’s army.”
“The Congress has always belittled the ability of the army, its strength and accomplishments. They have raised questions on it.”
“Those days are gone when India would give in to threats. This is a new India and it will strike terrorists well inside their hideouts across the border”
– The Prime Minister said in Jammu’s Kathua. (April 14, 2019 )
“I want to tell the first-time voters: can your first vote be dedicated to the veer jawans (brave soldiers) who carried out the air strike in Pakistan. Can your first vote be dedicated to the veer shaheed (brave martyrs) of the Pulwama (terror attack).”
“Congress and its allies are contesting the Lok Sabha elections to give a free hand to terrorists.”
“Rahul Gandhi is washing the sins of his father every day.”
– The Prime Minister said. (April 9, 2019)
How optimistic a picture does it paint of a Prime Minister who takes refuge of the accomplishments of the national defence to garner votes for himself and his party? In one of the very magnificent rallies that Sri Narendra Modi runs, he happened to address the first time voters and asked them “Can your first vote be dedicated to the brave martyrs of Pulwama and to those who conducted the air strike in Balakot?” He is not just stealing the credits of the air-strikes from the defence personnel but also transgressing the instructions of the Election Commission which asked all the political parties to stay away from mentioning the defence personnel or using defence personnel’s pictures while campaigning. This campaigning by the Prime Minister indirectly encourages other members of his party to resort to similar strategies to win votes.
How far has this gone?
Members of the ruling party like Amit Shah, Manoj Tiwari, Yogi Adityanath and many more have been politicising the Pulwama terror attacks and claiming credits for the Balakot air strike. And this is certainly not the first time that the government is seen taking up Defence Personnel’s credits. BJP President Amit Shah in Gujarat had said, “After Uri, our forces went into Pakistan and carried out surgical strikes. They avenged the death of our soldiers. After Pulwama, everyone thought there could be no surgical strikes, what will happen? But under Modi’s leadership, the government carried out an air strike after the 13th day and killed more than 250 terrorists.” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath went a step too ahead and referred to our defence personnel as “Modiji Ki Sena” (Meaning: Modi’s Army), which even Army veterans publicly took offence. With that remark, Yogi Adityanath has set the bar way too high for other members of the government to politicise defence activities. However, Manoj Tiwari was already seen campaigning wearing an Army combat, which undoubtedly breaks more than one law. There were BJP posters spotted with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s pictures alongside BJP leaders.
What’s making BJP do this?
If we think the reasons behind BJP desperately banking on Balakot air-strikes are not obvious enough, here are a few facts. Unemployment in India has reached an unprecedented height, the highest in 28 months. Cow vigilantism, moral policing and hate crimes have become daily affairs. Farmers feel betrayed. Demonetisation, an economic decision announced by PM Modi himself, failed to yield any positive results. India has fallen in the world press freedom index from 136th to 138th rank and in happiness index too to the 140th rank among 156 countries. And these are just some of the reasons. The Prime Minister must introspect on whether he is being a good role model to his fellow party members and if he is doing any good to the nation by outrightly disobeying the election commission guidelines and denying the national defence the respect and credits it deserves.
Is Election Commission turning a blind eye to this?
The Election Commission has expressed its concerns over its lack of power to prevent hate speech and communal remarks in election campaigns. It regrets that it is unable to act against those who repeatedly appeal for votes on the basis of religion. However, Election Commission has taken action against Mayawati, UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi and Azam Khan. And it is yet to be seen if Election Commission will take any action against PM Modi.