High on rhetoric, low on tact

Bravado has overtaken the sense of sobriety that BJP should have shown after the surgical strikes

Written by Muhammad A. Khan , Randeep Singh Surjewala | Updated: October 21, 2016 5:21 pm
surgical strikes, surgical strike proof, Congress, BJP, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, surgical strikes truth, indian army, surgical strike proved, india-pakistan, line of control, pakistan occupied kashmir, surgical strike proved, surgical strike video, surgical strike photo As the principal Opposition showed maturity and reason, the government sought to subvert the issue for myopic political gain.

Following the valiant surgical strikes by the Indian army on September 29, the country has been witness to a bizarre political discourse. In an almost embarrassing display, the government and its supporters have fallen over each other in crediting themselves, mythological forces, political leaders and, shockingly, even the RSS for the strikes. These are not sporadic events but form a pattern of propaganda. They range from the nation’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, condescendingly informing the army that it was made to realise its prowess to the BJP president Amit Shah declaring that the army crossed the LoC for the first time in such a manner since Independence. Political rhetoric and bravado overtook the sense of sobriety and restraint that must follow such an important strategic decision. It also exposed the prism through which the BJP and the country’s administrators view national security, completely unmindful of the delicate geopolitical situation.

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The Congress was the first to welcome the surgical strikes and unhesitatingly commended the army and government for its leadership. Even when certain other politicians questioned the strikes, the Congress was quick to point out that the DGMO’s statement should not be questioned. As Pakistan attempted to spread its false narrative, particularly in the international media, we called upon the government to expose its claims but only in a manner that is in consonance with the requirements of national security.

As the principal Opposition showed maturity and reason, the government sought to subvert the issue for myopic political gain. Faced with vulgar machismo, posters in poor taste and inflammatory speeches by BJP leaders, the Congress leadership cautioned the government against eroding or undermining the sacrifice of the armed forces. It was, after all, a matter of grave concern when a prime minister issues a diktat that no “chest thumping” should take place. Yet this command was openly flouted not just by party workers but by cabinet ministers and spokespersons with endorsement of the most belligerent of them, Manohar Parrikar, coming from the prime minister himself.

The BJP responded in a manner that could hardly be described as responsible. In an agenda that has become all too familiar, the BJP and its cronies switched to inflammatory rhetoric, questioning everyone’s motives and describing any question raised as anti-national. The Congress, faced with this machine bent on manipulating public opinion, did not relent. One of the foremost responsibilities of the principal Opposition party is to act as the nation’s conscience keeper and continue to ask questions, even at the risk of unpopularity. Anything less would be a betrayal of its charge.

Next, to gauge whether the Congress’ position is excessive, it is important to review the conduct of the BJP when it was in the Opposition. The yardstick followed by the BJP was staggeringly different from that adopted by the Congress. BJP leaders, when in the Opposition, employed the crudest terms to question the Congress government and by extension, the army. Yet the Congress-led UPA neither disclosed nor used the previous surgical strikes to score political points. Of course, details of some of the previous surgical strikes have been now made public by those who were involved at the time. This time, the government has gone on an overdrive to claim credit resulting in an escalation of Pakistan’s shoddy attempts at denial.

Even compared to the previous BJP-led NDA government, this government falls short of the tact and restraint that a responsible government is required to exercise. Former Chief of Army Staff, General V. P. Malik writes in his book, Kargil: From surprise to victory, that when his political colleagues used the images of three service chiefs on political posters at a rally in Haryana, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee “graciously acknowledged” the fault. In a chapter aptly titled, “Leave us alone,” Malik explains the historical wisdom and importance in keeping the army at a distance from the political process. In words still relevant today, he writes, “The political exploitation of the Kargil war for electoral gains worried the military leadership as it could undermine the neutral character of the armed forces and, in the process, affect its professionalism”. The current government would do well to reflect on this sentiment. The Indian army is widely regarded as an incredibly tough, secular and professional organisation. Heaping adjectives on political masters and viewing the actions of the army through a narrow prism of majoritarian jingoism does the army and our soldiers a huge disservice.

Lastly, respect for the armed forces cannot be demonstrated through rhetoric. When a defence minister questions the sacrifice of the army on the ground that they were carried out during the previous regime, his party’s oft-stated regard and reverence for the army rings hollow. Regardless of the government in power, the army has performed its functions with courage and diligence. This is what the Congress has consistently been saying. It is a poor reflection on the government when the defence minister undermines the role and valour of the armed forces over the last 68 years simply out of a superficial concern of losing some of the glory, the government is currently basking in.

Since Independence, successive governments have played their part in ensuring that Pakistan’s fate as a failed democracy does not befall India. Our democratic institutions have constantly been improved and refined to serve their functions free from mutual interference. A government stuck in campaign mode should take note. The army and the strikes cannot be allowed to become a tool to be leveraged for further political exploitation. Politics is important but it has its place. And as tradition and common sense dictate, that place is not the army.

Surjewala is MLA in the Haryana legislature and the AICC media in-charge and Khan is a Supreme Court advocate 

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  1. P
    prakash gotimukul
    Oct 20, 2016 at 9:08 am
    This moron can think n write an article is beyond imagination. A parrot can never write original. Parrot in a cage. He looks nice carry suitcase of Sonia/Pappu
    Reply
    1. A
      Anonymous
      Oct 20, 2016 at 9:45 am
      He must be talking about congress reaction terrible and anti national that it was SURELY. P Sonia hi take note. Hypocrisy is alive and well has housed itself in the congress party.
      Reply
      1. L
        Lg
        Oct 20, 2016 at 5:09 am
        All is well. We Bharat vasi's have so little to celebrate in our otherwise desolate lives. Why do you want to deny us this small and insignificant victory. We know it's propoa by the ruling party but yet we eat it up w heartedly because there is nothing else to be proud of. Just a few months ago we had the same feeling of elation when we, a nation of 1.2 billion people, managed to scalp a couple of medals at the Rio Olympics.
        Reply
        1. S
          S.Dinesh.
          Oct 20, 2016 at 8:14 am
          I agree with the author.The world must be laughing at our politically immature leadership and primitive mindset of our general public.
          Reply
          1. S
            SubbuI
            Oct 20, 2016 at 5:15 am
            IT IS LIKE A GOOD VACATION IS OVER AND THE OFFICIAL DUTY IS STARTING FOR NALAYAK NMODI MUST CONCENTRATE ON KASMIR TODAY. THE CONDITION THER IS GETTING WORAST AFTER 100 DAYS TURMOIL AND NEVER ENDING CURFEW WITH 100 DEATHS. 500 BLINDINGS AND THUSANDS OF BADLY INJUREDlt;br/gt;SCHOOL AND COLLEGES ARE CLOSED. HOW MANY INSUTES. CAN BE SHIFTED OUT SIDE STATE AS BEING DONE NOW. WHEN A LIMB IN YOUR BODY LIMB GET GANGERENE AND LEFT UN ATTENDED YOU MAY HAVE TO AMPUTE THE LIMB. HOPE NALAYAK UNDERSTANDS WHAT IS PRIORITY.
            Reply
            1. K
              K SHESHU
              Oct 20, 2016 at 4:10 pm
              Congress has used them covertly while the fascists are using overtly..there is no difference ..
              Reply
              1. M
                monu
                Oct 20, 2016 at 2:05 am
                BJP is using army to get votes
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                1. A
                  angel
                  Oct 20, 2016 at 4:53 am
                  If the Chaddi Gang want to take credit for the Surgical strike Then how about taking the blame for the contionous strike by the enemy in the state ruled by BJPandPDP.Should the Defence and home minister resign. The Chaddi Gang have only one point agenda of comming to power at any cost and will rake up Ram in time for the UP elections. Its time for the people of India to see thru this and show them their place
                  Reply
                  1. V
                    Vikrant
                    Oct 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm
                    Suddenly those sleeping with jihadis are worried as their masters are being hunted down. Tell your jihadi master that impotent rulers are gone so better start behaving. Jihadis and their skaves who enjo kiling unarmed civilians they would meet fate worse than street dogs
                    Reply
                    1. a
                      a_D
                      Oct 20, 2016 at 7:56 am
                      These loose tongued, lacking gravitas......making house-wife type half baked comments are the government we have.....lt;br/gt;They are the equivalent of illiterate "Noveau Riche" of politics......with a handful of loud and abusive followers.....it's a curse that the nation's gotta bear for 2 years and a bit more
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                        Anuradha Kalhan
                        Oct 20, 2016 at 11:10 pm
                        They have to do something to stay por, nothing else is happening to bring in ache din, so why not crow and thump 56" chest about what the army did and call it surgical strikes! After all nobody can ask for proof for a national security issue and nobody asks them why they are so excited !lt;br/gt;This will go on till they think of the next gag or more likely as the defense Minister said what the RSS thinks of doing to stay in the news.
                        Reply
                        1. A
                          A. KHAN
                          Oct 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm
                          CONGRESS IS A FINISHED FORCE....ALL BIG LEADERS HAVE LOOTED INDIA AND LEFT...
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            A. KHAN
                            Oct 20, 2016 at 7:00 am
                            good people are suffering because of terrorists and opposition leaders....KASHMIRI MUS LIMS ARE UNITED AND KNOW THAT SOME POLITICIANS ARE CREATING PROBLEMS
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              A. KHAN
                              Oct 20, 2016 at 7:09 am
                              good people are suffering because of terrorists and opposition leaders....KASHMIRI MUS LIMS ARE UNITED AND KNOW THAT SOME POLITICIANS ARE CREATING PROBLEMS AND Hizbul Mujahideen, Hurriyat chairman S Ali Shah Geelani and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik....ARE TRAITORS AND SPOILING THE NAME OF MUS LIMS.
                              Reply
                              1. B
                                Bakumbai
                                Oct 20, 2016 at 7:40 pm
                                The situation in Congress is such that there is none above who can restrict such unsolicited articles. Rita Bahuguna, a senior leader of Congress, cited this as an exact reason why she is leaving Congress and joining BJP.
                                Reply
                                1. B
                                  bennedose
                                  Oct 20, 2016 at 4:06 am
                                  Why should sobriety have been there after the successful attack? It is part of psy-ops to celebrate a victory and demoralize an adversary? Why are you getting your langoti all twisted up?
                                  Reply
                                  1. B
                                    Bhagwat Goel
                                    Oct 20, 2016 at 4:41 am
                                    DO NOT WORRY. CONGRESSMEN AND WOMEN ARE IN GREAT DEPRESSION. THEY WANT TO HELP STAN BY ABUSING INDIA AND ITS GOVERNMENT/ARMY. UNDER ITALIAN SONIA THEY ARE NO LONGER INDIANS BUT ITALIANS.
                                    Reply
                                    1. D
                                      Deeptanshu Verma
                                      Oct 20, 2016 at 4:10 pm
                                      Indian Express should print the "ideny" of its columnists at the top. Reading that this guy is Congress Party Media Officer makes so much sense and puts the column in perspective!
                                      Reply
                                      1. D
                                        Dev Verma
                                        Oct 20, 2016 at 3:29 pm
                                        Shame on this man called surjewala..look at your history and see where is congress today. You must retrospect your policies where as your senior leaders are leaving and all duffers are left to praise only one man..o sorry not man..baba to pamper with.
                                        Reply
                                        1. P
                                          Pitambar Sharma
                                          Oct 20, 2016 at 6:55 pm
                                          Indian Express is Congress's pimp. So they want to promote articles by Congress spkespersons. If they identify the columnist upfront, who will read the column?
                                          Reply
                                          1. P
                                            Pitambar Sharma
                                            Oct 20, 2016 at 6:52 pm
                                            You are jealous. If you do not shape up and keep playing dirty politics, you are finished.
                                            Reply
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