EDITORIAL | Politics over everything

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the launch of 'Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Pension Yojana' (PM-SYM Scheme 2019) for unorganised workers, in Ahmedabad. PTI

No politics over terrorism. No politics over Pulwama. No politics over airstrike. National security is above everything. But the injunctions and assertions were thrown out in short order, and politics now dominates discussions of each of these. It is actually politics over everything. The government and the ruling party’s desire to make electoral gain at the cost of national unity, security and the truth of its actions is obvious to anyone who cares to see. The politicisation of national security and the armed forces since the Pulwama terror attack has been led by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. Within hours of the airstrike, Modi was addressing a public rally and making political capital out of it. When questioned about the claims being made by his party leaders about the Balakot airstrike and its aftermath, he has resorted to charging them with “questioning the armed forces and helping Pakistan.”  

No government and party should claim a monopoly on patriotism and politically exploit the operations of the armed forces of the nation. The prime minister should have briefed the opposition on the Pulwama attack and the Balakot operation at all-party meetings or addressed the nation over them. That is what happens in democracies. Instead, he has chosen to attack the opposition at party meetings and even government functions, using every occasion to promote himself and denigrate the opposition. The questions that he blames the opposition for raising would not have arisen if he had provided the facts and information to the nation. Facts and informed commentary are in short supply, and those who are considered to be in the know are giving different versions and stories. So, there is a legitimate need to ask questions and persist with them till they are answered.

What we have got instead is a spectacle of the BJP president Amit Shah claiming at an election rally that 250 terrorists were killed in the Balakot airstrike, while Air Chief B S Dhanoa says the IAF had not counted how many had died in its airstrike; senior BJP leader SS Ahluwalia says that killing terrorists was not even the goal of the airstrike, it was simply a message to Pakistan that we could strike deep inside its territory; the next day, Home Minister Rajnath Singh says “300 terrorists killed”, while Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says she can’t put a figure on the casualties. There are even different versions about how the airstrike itself was conducted – whether IAF fighters crossed the LoC into Pakistani territory or fired stand-off munitions from inside Indian territory. There should not be so many different claims and confusion on a matter of national importance. All questions cannot be drowned in rhetoric. Nor can they be dismissed as anti-national. Some questions need answers. 

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EDITORIAL | Politics over everything

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