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Diversion spells breather for BJP

Party uses attack to drum up nationalist frenzy over the death of the 40 CRPF jawans
Amit Shah addresses a party meeting in Jaipur on Monday.

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 18.02.19, 10:28 PM

BJP president Amit Shah on Monday described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the tallest world leader with the political will to fight terror and promised a befitting reply to the Pulwama attack, as the party eyes political mileage from drumming up passions over the tragedy.

“The world over, all leaders are against terrorism. But no other world leader has the political will that our leader Narendrabhai has to deal with terrorism,” Shah told party workers in Jaipur, addressing a meeting to prepare them for the Lok Sabha polls.

Shah claimed the BJP was the only party with “zero-tolerance” against terrorism and promised that the martyrdom of the jawans would be avenged. “Maakul jawab diya jaayega sena ke dwara,” he said. “A befitting reply will be given by the army.”

While advising the Opposition not to politicise the issue or question how such an attack took place, the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been going all out to build a nationalist frenzy in the country over the deaths of the 40 CRPF jawans. The party is confident this will help it in the general election.

After the suicide-bomb attack on February 14, most Opposition parties declared their unequivocal support to the government and virtually sealed their lips, announcing suspension of political activities. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra cancelled her first news conference that was scheduled on the evening of the attack after offering her condolences to the families of the troopers.

But Amit Shah, who was on a political tour of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that day, continued with his engagements as usual. He addressed booth-level workers in Karnataka in the evening, by when it was clear that Kashmir had been hit by the worst-ever terror attack.

Party MP Manoj Tiwari regaled an audience in Allahabad, dancing and singing well into Thursday night, hours after the 40 jawans had died.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, too, did not suspend a scheduled political event in Kerala on the Sabarimala temple late in the evening of February 14.

The BJP announced suspension of political activities for the day only on February 15. Prime Minister Modi, however, continued with his government engagements even on Friday. “The aim of terrorists is to stop India’s development. But we have also resolved that India’s march can’t be halted,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said in justification.

Modi, however, used the launch of Vande Bharat Express, the country’s fastest train made in India, in Delhi to exhibit aggression and promise retribution for the Pulwama attack, stressing that “people’s blood is boiling”.

The Opposition, wary of being branded anti-national, did not raise questions over the government’s failure to prevent the Pulwama attack nor did it criticise the Prime Minister for using the government platform for a political campaign.

The government was also spared any major criticism over the breakdown of the Vande Bharat Express on its much-hyped inaugural run, because of the Opposition’s self-imposed restraint following the Pulwama attack.

On February 15, Modi addressed another event in Uttar Pradesh and here too he used the Pulwama attack to drum up nationalist frenzy and warn Pakistan. For the next two days, the Prime Minister used each of his official events to promise revenge, claiming he was a strong leader unlike Congress governments in the past, while the Opposition watched in silence.

Despite the public posturing of mourning, internally BJP leaders believe the Pulwama attack can help them turn the tide in the general election using the nationalist plank. Party leaders feel Modi has used the issue to put the Opposition on the backfoot and overshadow criticism of his government over farm and job crisis.

“In Gujarat, Modi had used the Godhra train tragedy to turn the unchallenged leader of the state for the next three terms. I am sure he will use the Kashmir terror attack in the same manner and dwarf the Opposition,” one BJP leader said.


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