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Indo-Pak math: Why did RSS, BJP set softer tone post 2014?

Since the deadliest Pulwama terror attack last week, the whole nation seems to be in a great shock. While the country leadership is prepping a befitting reply to Pakistan, it is noteworthy to observe by the end of Modi’s first tenure as the Prime Minister of India since elected in May 2014, how Pakistan policy of BJP government has undergone dramatic shifts. From being confidently aggressive over solving ‘Pak-sponsored terrorism’ and giving befitting reply to Pakistan once in power to making an impromptu visit to Lahore in December 2015 to wish the then Pak PM Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and later the claim of carrying out Surgical Strikes at Pakistan-based terror camps in September 2016 as a response to the Uri attack, Modi’s approach towards the neighbouring country have been inconsistent and subdued. Moreover, RSS calling Pakistan as ‘India’s brother’ and NSA Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya Doval’s business partner Syed Ali Abbas being a Pakistani look ironic when that nowhere bothers the government which is claiming to try every possible way to teach Pak a lesson!

Looking at the highly tensed Jammu and Kashmir border, constant terrorist attacks and LoC violations, and the upcoming general elections in India, it is observed that the Indo-Pakistan relations have reached a place of no return. In a conversation with Afternoon Voice, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kariya Munda said, “PM Narendra Modi has made a lot of promises during the 2014 elections. He spoke a lot against Pakistan too and it was a part of campaigning. It is not necessary that everything said can be achieved as five years is a short time. Sangh and Mohan Bhagwat both have different opinions. Being a part of Politics is different from being a part of a Hindutva organisation.”

RSS in 2015 favoured the engagements with Pakistan and other neighboring countries saying that they were formed out of the same (India), and endorsed the direction, commitment, and good intentions of the Modi government and further added that there is a need to discuss how to improve the relationships with the people related historically and geographically to India. However, RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale shrugged off the acrimony between India and Pakistan saying, such things happen in a family, between brothers, and one should move on and work to improve the relationship rather than scratching the past. On replying how to maintain peace and brotherhood in the face of provocation by Pakistan, he said, Kauravas and Pandavas were brothers and hence, we must put effort to establish peace.

Soon after the terrorists attacked on Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Punjab’s Pathankot on January 2, 2016, the members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), submitted a memorandum to PM Modi, urging to declare war against Pakistan. The attack which caused the death of six soldiers and an officer was allegedly carried out by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which has claimed the responsibility for the last week’s suicide bombing in Pulwama.

However, in contrast with the aggressive reaction to the Pathankot attack, the response of the Sangh Parivar to the car bombing seems to be muted. The VHP and RSS, the ideological parent of the ruling BJP, have toned down the calls for retribution and statements issues by the key functionaries convey their faith in the government to hold the perpetrators to account, but the bombast is missing now.

Looking at the double standards of the Modi-led BJP government, former Congress MP Suresh Taware asserted, “Pulwama attack is a huge loss to the nation. Two soldiers from Maharashtra sacrificed their lives. During the funeral of the martyred soldiers, PM Modi was on a visit to the state for the election campaign which is absolutely wrong. Before the 2014 elections, PM Modi and Mohan Bhagwat were giving strong statements against Pakistan. However, after coming to power, they have changed their opinion. There is no patriotism in Mohan Bhagwat or PM Modi and PM Modi himself is a terrorist.”

Moreover, following the Pulwama attack, VHP working president Alok Kumar asked the government to destroy the terrorist bases in Pakistan including outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammad. Whereas, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat dubbed the attack ‘cowardly’ and said that ‘we expect action in response to this. We have tolerated a lot and are still doing so. All India Trinamool Congress MP Sajda Ahmed said, “URI and Pulwama are BJP’s election agenda. They don’t have a soft approach towards Pakistan as if they do so, their agenda will fail. It was Mandir-Masjid tool before and now it is Nationality. Let people decide. Let the news media make people aware.”

Nationalist Congress Party MP Madhukar Kukde added, “Action must be taken against Pakistan. People engaged in businesses with Pakistan must be stopped as Pakistan has betrayed India. We should only talk about our country’s progress.”

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