BJP ups ante on Pulwama as core constituency restive

Last Updated 23 February 2019, 17:44 IST

Pulwama and Ram Mandir at Ayodhya could both prove a nemesis or passport to power for BJP depending on the action taken on the twin fronts.

The saffron party, which promised Ram temple in its manifesto and made a strong national pitch bordering on jingoism against Pakistan, is under tremendous pressure from its constituency to do something tangible on both the fronts. But their hands seem tied.

“Have faith in our soldiers deployed on the border, in the Modi government and on Maa Bhawani’s blessings. Scores will be settled this time, settled for good (Iss baar hisaab hoga, hisaab poora hoga),” Modi said at a rally in Tonk in Rajasthan, lending voice to the growing chorus for some “real action” against Pakistan to check the export of terror.

Along with the hyperbole is the attempt to link the violence in Kashmir with national politics. In the Tonk rally, Modi said incidents like the Pulwama attack give strength to those who chant 'Bharat tere tukde honge', referring to slogans allegedly calling for the “break up of the country.”

He was referring to the 2016 JNU row when Congress President Rahul Gandhi had visited the University campus to express solidarity with students. Alluding to Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s visit to Pakistan before Gujarat assembly polls last year, Modi said these are the people who go to Pakistan saying, “do anything but remove Modi”. Congress had rejected these charges.

Thorn in flesh

While the BJP is trying hard to orient the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to national narrative and questioning the principal Opposition Congress’ commitment to nationalism, the fatal Pulwama attack ahead of Lok Sabha polls and two years after the surgical strikes against Pakistan post Uri attack, is a thorn in the flesh for BJP.

It has given enough ammunition to Opposition parties to question Modi’s heightened anti-Pakistan pitch in the run up to 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP’s support constituency is also restive and measures like withdrawing Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status from Pakistan, imposing 200 % customs duty and threatening to stop India's share of water flowing to Pakistan are not going to satisfy them.

So far RSS has refrained from piling more pressure on the government on Pulwama like it was doing on Ram temple issue till a few months back.

Not many options

While RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had pitched for “Ram temple as soon as possible”, Vishwa Hindu Parishad had organised Dharm Sansads to build pressure on the government to bring an ordinance to begin temple construction as the matter lingered on in the Supreme Court.

As pressure mounted on temple front, BJP chief Amit Shah repeatedly assured that the party is committed to building Ram temple on the same spot but the government also gave broad indications that it would first allow the legal process to play out fully.

Poll watchers believe that BJP is plying a double edged sword on both the key issues and is not left with much options.

(Published 23 February 2019, 17:17 IST)

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