Despicable Opposition, statesmanlike Modi

Owing to their pathological antipathy towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Opposition leaders are behaving in a manner that is not just against the best interests of India but also of Pakistan, south Asia, indeed the entire world. For their nastiness may trigger another Indo-Pak war.

Arvind Kejriwal’s remarks may be dismissed as a joke in our country because we know that he is capable of making nauseating statements but, due to his position as the Chief Minister of Delhi, he can be taken seriously elsewhere. In Pakistan, he has been hailed as a hero for questioning the claims of the Indian government. Well, he did not exactly doubt the statement of the Director General Military Operations, Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh; but the implication somehow buttressed the Pakistani position.

Kejriwal is… well, Kejriwal, but the Congress has a history of 127 years; most of the time, it was the country’s preeminent party. It is indeed one of the oldest political parties in the world. So, what explains the utterly irresponsible and contemptible remarks made by its senior leaders?

Former home minister P. Chidambaram said, “Having taken political ownership for the cross-border action and having publicized it so much, it is only to be expected that people will demand that the video be released. So, I am sure the government has thought through about the consequences of taking the political ownership for a purely military action. And having thought through the consequences, let the government respond to the demand for releasing videos.”

Before dissecting his demand for evidence of the strikes, let’s discuss this “ownership” business. Chidambaram’s party colleague Anand Sharma also claimed that similar attacks were also mounted in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013, but “in the wisdom of the UPA, the political ownership of such actions of the Army was not considered necessary.” The only difference this time, according to Sharma and Chidambaram, is that the Modi regime has taken the “political ownership.”

The Congress’ claim has been rejected by the DGMO during 2012-14. Even if the claim is accepted, a few questions arise: Do the Congress party grandees realize what they are talking about? Are they suggesting that the Indian Army carried out strikes earlier without government permission? Is it possible in a liberal democracy for the government to avoid and the military to take ownership of an action? Is the Indian Army roguish like its Pakistani counterpart? Further, what stopped the Congress government from taking the ownership of the attacks, assuming that they took place? Sonia Gandhi who weeps when jihadists die? The politics of Muslim appeasement?

Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam went to the extent of saying that the Indian Army’s action against terrorists in PoK strikes was “a fake one to extract just political benefit.”

Typically, the grand old party has dissociated from Nirupam’s remarks. It is an old strategy: let some leaders make nefarious comments; then party spokespersons say that these are not the views of the party. The forked-tongue trick helps the GOP remain ‘secular,’ while national security is compromised.

In comparison, Modi’s behavior has been statesmanlike. He has not gone into a chest-thumping frenzy, bashing Pakistan and boasting about his own courage—a behavioral pattern often associated with him. His government has ensured that DGMO Singh was clinical and cautious in his statement. He underlined the fact that “the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to preempt infiltration by terrorists. The operations were focused on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their design to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens.”

Further, the DGMO clearly stated that India had no interest in escalating the conflict: “During these counter terrorist operations significant casualties were caused to terrorists and those providing support to them. The operations aimed at neutralizing terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for further continuation. However, the Indian Armed Forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise.”

Modi realizes that the Pakistani Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, is a national hero. Due to retire shortly, he would not like to be remembered as an Army Chief who failed to retaliate. Obviously, our Prime Minister doesn’t want to unnecessarily provoke Pakistan or its Army to scale up the conflict which has to possibility to acquiring nuclear dimensions.

Modi’s sagacity is in sharp contrast to the Opposition’s pigheadedness.