Timings of Modi’s jingoistic rhetoric

Timings of Modi’s jingoistic rhetoric

Rajeev Sharma
After completing 40 percent of its five-year tenure, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on an ultra-nationalist policy. As a result, the Modi government has pushed the envelope with its two contiguous neighbors with whom it has fought wars like perhaps no Indian government had ever done before —Pakistan and China.
Whether this is a right or a flawed policy is another matter — and a very important one, of course. But right now one should be concerned with the things as they are, not why they are so. So, here you have the Modi government taking on Pakistan and China in past few days.
Talking about China, the Modi government has riled the Chinese no end by deploying the BrahMos supersonic missiles in Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state claimed by China in its entirety and a state which the Chinese refer to as “South Tibet.” The move comes after India had deployed Sukhoi fighter aircraft in the Chinese war theatre and operationalized a series of Advanced Landing Grounds in regions bordering China.
From the Indian point of view, of course it was a justifiable reaction as it is in response to the way the Chinese have highly militarized Tibet and all border regions in close proximity with India. While China may rant against the India counter move, the fact is that it is a “counter move” aimed at safeguarding its national security and India is not the initiator of this strategy.
To make matters worse, and perhaps incendiary, the Indian Army has dismissed the Chinese concerns as articulated by the state-controlled Chinese media and said it was entirely India’s prerogative to take whatever steps it deemed fit for its national security and foreign powers had no say in the matter.
The Modi government is clearly poking the Chinese Dragon in the eye and is defiant about its forward military posture.
On Pakistan, the Modi government has taken a similar posture, which the Pakistanis obviously view as hawkish and provocative. None other than PM Modi has played the Balochistan card with Pakistan in a defiant counter reaction to Pakistan’s perceived sins of omission and commission on the ongoing crisis in Jammu and Kashmir.
Google has been flooded with search requests for Balochistan and many searchers sought to know where Balochistan is and why it is suddenly in the forefront of India-Pakistan dynamics. Well, a helpful hint to that query is that Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, which accounts for 40 percent of the country’s landmass but is a restive, backward region where the locals are seething in anger against the federal regime.
From the Pakistani viewpoint, the Balochistan tangle is just a political bogey pushed by the Indians solely with the objective of diverting the global attention from the alleged atrocities by the Indian security agencies to keep Kashmir by hook or crook.
Whatever the result or the actual impartial prognosis of the current interplay in India-Pakistan bilateral context, the fact is that India’s strategy of countering the K word (Kashmir) with the B word (Balochistan) is a provocation of the extreme kind from the Pakistani viewpoint.
Clearly, the Modi government has turned on its head India’s policy toward two of its immediate neighbors and perceived archenemies, Pakistan and China. The Modi government has taken maximalist positions with regard to Pakistan and China.
This is something that the previous Indian governments had steadfastly avoided as they did not take such hard positions vis-à-vis Pakistan and China. For example, the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from 2004 to 2014 and the Vajpayee government from 1998 to 2004 never took recourse to eyeball-to-eyeball tactics.
In contrast, the Modi government is doing precisely this. The question is why! Also, the question is why now!
Whispers in the power corridors of New Delhi suggest that this is a conscious and deliberate strategy by the Modi government at the behest of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh or RSS, which is to the Modi government what 10, Janpath (official residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi) was to the Manmohan Singh government.
If political whispers were to be taken into account, there is a clever strategy behind the Modi government’s aggressive policy and posturing vis-à-vis Pakistan and China. All this appears to be linked with the crucial assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
As per this theory, the RSS is believed to have conveyed to the Modi government that it is going to lose the UP polls as of the current ground situation in UP and the only way the BJP can win this political semifinal is by touching the common Indian’s jingoistic chord. Things like these are never confirmed or denied. All that matters is the political undercurrents.
This offers a sneak peak into the Modi government’s thinking — that playing the patriotism card is the only workable strategy and option left for the Modi government to win UP. Politics is indeed the art of making the impossible possible. Let’s not rule it out.
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