Balakot temptation: Amit Shah ignores appeal by veterans
BJP president Amit Shah has not only invoked the Balakot air strikes at a campaign rally on Saturday but also sought to hammer home the message that it was Narendra Modi who had ordered the operation.
The show-boating came even before the ink had dried on an anguished appeal by a glittering array of military veterans to bring a halt to “the completely unacceptable practice of political leaders taking credit for military operations like cross-border strikes”.
Shah, however, flagged the army’s September 29, 2016, “surgical strike” on terror launch pads across the Line of Control — a response to the Uri terror attack — and the response to the Pulwama suicide bombing that killed 40 CRPF men last February 14.
The BJP president said in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh: “Shahidon ke Terahvin ke din hi hamare air force ke ran bankuron ko unhone hukum diya, air force ne Pakistan ke ghar me ghus kar... (He issued an order to the brave soldiers of our air force on the 13th day of the martyrdom of the CRPF men, and they entered Pakistani territory).”
Before linking the timing of the February 26 Balakot air strikes with the Hindu ritual of Terahvin or Shraddh, which takes place on the 13th day after a person’s death and marks the conclusion of mourning and a return to normal life, Shah had mentioned Modi by name.
“Magar Modiji ko Shahjahanpur ne bheja hai, aese Modiji hain. UP se Pradhan Mantri gaya woh Narendra Modi jaisa (But Modiji is just the sort of person a place like Shahjahanpur would elect. Uttar Pradesh has elected a Prime Minister like Modi),” he said.
Shah also boasted: “Atankiyon ke addon par bomb gira kar unke phuche phuche udane ka kaam ye Narendra Modi sarkar ne kiya (The Narendra Modi government dropped bombs on terror camps and blew them to smithereens).”
Academics said “phuche phuche” is a Gujarati expression that evokes the idea of being shattered into fragments.
The veterans, led by several former service chiefs, have written an unprecedented letter to the President, who is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, appealing to him to direct parties not to invoke the military for political purposes.
The poll panel, too, had recently asked political parties to keep the military’s activities out of their campaigns.
Recently, Modi had appealed to first-time voters to dedicate their votes to the Pulwama victims and the personnel involved in the air strikes, prompting the Congress complaint to the poll panel.
“There were two places where people mourned (the air strikes). One was Pakistan, where people were expectedly beating their chests,” Shah said.
“Then there was mourning in the houses of aunty and nephew,” he added, alluding to Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, who have formed an alliance for the general election.
Shahjahanpur votes in the fourth phase on April 29.