Po­lit­i­cal dis­course in poll-bound states set to change af­ter strikes

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - NATION - DK Singh

NEW DELHI: In­dia’s sur­gi­cal strikes on ter­ror “launch pads” across the Line of Con­trol (LOC) in Pak­istan-oc­cu­pied-kash­mir (POK) is set to change the po­lit­i­cal dis­course in poll-bound Ut­tar Pradesh, Ut­tarak­hand, Pun­jab, Goa and Ma­nipur. It has given the BJP an evoca­tive theme to rally peo­ple around — the party would hope — by sub­sum­ing lo­cal nar­ra­tives around castes and com­mu­ni­ties.

What must hearten the rul­ing party at the Cen­tre is how the mil­i­tary re­sponse to Uri ter­ror strike will em­bolden its cadres and sup­port­ers. The Bjp-led govern­ment was un­der pres­sure from them to take re­venge, in keep­ing with its com­bat­ive pos­tur­ing dur­ing its years in the op­po­si­tion.

The party used to call for­mer Prime Minister Man­mo­han Singh “weak” in re­spond­ing to ter­ror strikes. The then op­po­si­tion leader Sushma Swaraj wanted 10 Pak­istani heads in re­turn for one slain In­dian soldier. Af­ter the Septem­ber 18 at­tack on Uri army base, which left 18 jawans dead, BJP cadres and sup­port­ers wanted the party to ‘walk the talk’.

A se­nior BJP func­tionary told HT that party chief Amit Shah’s Face­book ac­count was flooded with abu­sive rants, ex­press­ing anger and re­sent­ment at the govern­ment’s failure to take re­venge against Pak­istan.

The direc­tor gen­eral of mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions (DGMO) did that talk on Thurs­day, an­nounc­ing In­dia’s strike on ter­ror “launch pads” — erst­while train­ing camps in POK — which shifted deeper into POK but whose in­fra­struc­ture was used to fa­cil­i­tate in­fil­tra­tion of ter­ror­ists across the LOC or de-facto bor­der.

It’s no secret that LOC has not al­ways been a ‘Lak­sh­man rekha’ in times of a hot pur­suit or raids across the bor­der in re­sponse to provo­ca­tions from the other side, but an of­fi­cial dec­la­ra­tion about it ad­dressed the growing clam­our for ret­ri­bu­tion and also re­in­forced BJP’S im­age as a na­tion­al­ist party with a hard line, no-non­sense ap­proach to­wards Pak­istan.

Pro­fes­sor Badri Narayan of Jawa­har­lal Nehru Uni­ver­sity is of the view that if the mo­men­tum gen­er­ated by the mil­i­tary of­fen­sive is sus­tained, it will help the BJP in the assem­bly elec­tions sched­uled in Fe­bru­ary-march next year.

“It boosts the morale of the BJP cadre. The mid­dle class also feels good. As it is, it looks like go­ing in favour of the BJP but much will de­pend on how long the party can carry this mo­men­tum. Elec­tions are six months away and some new is­sues might crop up between now and then,” he says.

Be­sides, fac­tors such as caste, re­li­gion and peo­ple’s as­pi­ra­tion play their own roles. There are ag­i­ta­tions by Marathas in Ma­ha­rash­tra and Pati­dars in Gu­jarat. Mo­bil­i­sa­tion of Dal­its is tak­ing place in Gu­jarat and UP. “There are many fac­tors, which can’t be over­looked. It (ret­ri­bu­tion against Pak­istan) is a unit, not a whole. Its im­pact will also de­pend on how the BJP pack­ages it with Hin­dutva,” says Narayan.

The BJP and its ide­o­log­i­cal pa­tron RSS are known to have deep in­ter­est in tra­di­tions and his­tory, es­pe­cially of an­cient times. There are lessons to be learnt from mod­ern his­tory as well. No less than Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee had eu­lo­gised Indira Gandhi as “Durga” for her role in bi­fur­cat­ing Pak­istan and cre­at­ing Bangladesh in 1971. But the euphoric sup­port for her didn’t last even a cou­ple of years as protest­ing peo­ple started hit­ting the streets for their day-to-day prob­lems, lead­ing to the im­po­si­tion of the Emer­gency in 1975.

Many in the BJP had spent time in jails dur­ing the Emer­gency and they — un­like cadres who must be elated to­day — have a bet­ter per­spec­tive. That ex­plains why the BJP na­tional coun­cil, while adopt­ing a state­ment on Uri at­tack at Kozhikode last Sun­day, fo­cused en­tirely on reach­ing out to the Dal­its, mi­nori­ties and de­prives sec­tions of the peo­ple.


Si­taram Yechury (right) and Ghu­lam Nabi Azad at the all-party meet­ing in New Delhi on Thurs­day.

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