It is observed that the Bharatiya Janata Party has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis shifting Lord Rama from its ‘kingmaker’ seat to bringing in Indian Army and the ‘josh’ of ‘blind nationalism’ as its pis aller before the 2019 general elections. Referring to former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao who once stressed on the trend of BJP’s ‘politics of symbolism’, the last few weeks have clearly shown how election-ready saffron party promptly brushed off its ‘star campaigner Lord Rama’ and set the Armed Forces of India as its crusader this time. Senior BJP leaders like Karnataka former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa recently calling the IAF’s airstrikes in Pakistan as a decisive factor for the saffron party’s victory in Lok Sabha polls due by May undoubtedly clears the cloud.
After the setback in the past elections to three states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh — last year, and with fading Modi-wave as compared to 2014 and opposition parties coming together, BJP seemed to have been lagging behind while the opposition parties were expecting a revival of fortunes.
The arguments around Ayodhya land dispute and the construction of Ram Temple have secured BJP’s validity in the national politics for a long time. It’s 2014 when the party slightly changed its aggressive stand on building Ram Temple and focused its campaigning more on development, anti-corruption, and employment to-do list. However, hailing the indomitable courage, fortitude and spirit of sacrifice of the armed forces have given a new shade to the ruling party’s 2019 prep work. On one hand, while there’s no questioning on the government’s forgotten promises, on the other hand, those who are questioning, are being immediately tagged as anti-national. The party is well aware that its victory can only be repeated with an emotive issue and voila! Nothing can be more promising than the promise of a robust leadership (‘56-inch chest’) that is able to keep the nation safe and united.
Brigadier (retired) Sudhir Sawant stated, “Airstrikes in Pakistan is just an operation by the Indian Air Force. The BJP leaders are promoting jingoism; war, which is a matter of national security, and should not be used for political purpose. The public should object and they must not allow BJP to use Army in their election speeches. They should also boycott BJP rallies.”
The so-called 2016 Surgical Strike that was carried out to avenge terror attack on Uri that killed 19 Indian Army soldiers in September 2016 has been widely used by the ruling government in its favour. Even, at the helm of the country’s first time ever acknowledgment for its forces to cross the LoC, Lt Gen DS Hooda (Retd), the Northern Army Commander, said, “The military leadership must guard against becoming a tool in the hands of politicians. We can’t take military action to suit someone politically.” He also added that though the action needed publicity to boost soldiers’ morale, the ‘excess hype and political one-upmanship’ around it was uncalled for. Moreover, political observers believe that the another so-called 2019 Surgical Strike 2.0 (India’s airstrikes well into Pakistani territory) after the gruesome attack in Pulwama on February 14 that killed more than 40 CRPF Jawans has been no exception. Wing Commander Abhinandan’s return to India on Friday after being taken into custody by Pakistan on Wednesday after his MiG 21 Bison aircraft was shot down in PoK, was also celebrated as an achievement of the incumbent government under the leadership of Narendra Modi and it was indeed a trend on social media over the weekend.
BJP leader Arun Chaturvedi said, “Indian Air Force’s airstrike in Pakistan is not a political issue. Nationalism and national security should be the core factors for any government or political party. Secondly, BJP is not considering this as an election tool. It is the duty of the central government to provide security to the nation and its citizens. BJP pays the highest regard to all armed forces of this nation.”
Moving seamlessly into the election mode and with the ironical timing of Indo-Pak tensions, PM Modi and his team continued electioneering at a time when dozens of paramilitary personnel have been killed in a terrorist attack and calculatively and chest-thumpingly brought the issue in their campaigning context. “India is in safe hands,” PM’s aggressive address from a Rajasthan rally reset the narrative of upcoming Lok Sabha polls due by May. On the day of the air strikes, Shah in a meeting in UP’s Ghazipur, lavishly praised PM Modi for possessing the “political will power” to fight terrorism and thundered, “Who can give a mooh todh jawab (fitting reply to Pakistan?) Who can wipe out terrorism?” What more can make it more evident?
Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh leader JV Pawar asserted, “BJP can’t win back power in 2019. While its main political agenda always was Lord Rama and Ram Temple, the time has changed now. Religious issues cannot be decisive factors behind BJP’s victory. Countrymen have a soft corner for the Indian Army and the BJP leaders are taking its advantage. BJP is using ‘nationalism’ for their benefit in the elections and the promises made by BJP are forgotten.”