Unsure about the immediate reaction from the “other side and sleeper cells” to the surgical strikes carried out by the Army, the BJP leadership is learnt to have quietly told its leaders to refrain from “chest thumping” and wait and watch for some more time before drawing political mileage from the operation.
However, there is near unanimity within the party leadership that the “highly successful” strikes will translate into massive vote swing in favour of the saffron party in the next year’s Assembly elections. “These are still early days and some reaction can happen from the other side and sleeper cells of various Pakistan-sponsored terrorist organisations. That is why we have asked leaders not to make a big issue of the highly-successful strikes,” said a senior BJP leader.
BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had met senior spokespersons for the BJP Thursday evening and asked them to be careful in their reactions and statements during television debates. “The leaders have been told that no chest thumping is allowed. They were told that the Prime Minister was very clear about it, because we are not sure how the reaction from the other side is going to be,” said another party leader.
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Asked if the party would benefit politically from the strikes, the leader replied in the affirmative. “Most definitely. Everybody knows now what a strong leader can do. We will certainly talk about these strikes and PM Modi’s leadership at election rallies in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Goa. But, for the moment, we will wait and watch,” he said. “Because, as of now, we have to deal it as a national issue. How much we can translate it into votes can be seen later. We will have benefits. Why should we deny it,” he added.
Officially, party spokespersons maintained that the strikes were for “national security”. BJP national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said: “We do not want to link it with any political mileage nor with elections. It was for national security.”
BJP is gearing up for a fierce fight in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab, which go to polls early in 2017. Party leaders admitted that the strikes would become a political issue later. “People expected Modi to do so. Otherwise what does 56” chest means?” asked a party leader.
BJP leaders pointed out that Shah, who was expected to speak to TV channels about the strike Thursday, dropped the idea later. The PM also did not issue any statement on it.
However, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the entire country is celebrating the “surgical strikes”. “We have hit them so badly that they are not even able to shed tears,” he said.