Conscious of the public anger over the Pulwama attack, the ruling BJP is treading cautiously and has asked its leaders to share the emotions and sorrow of the families of security personnel killed in the attack.
It began with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman briefing the party’s spokespersons at the BJP headquarters immediately after the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Friday. According to party sources, Jaitley told them that no one should make “war-mongering” or “political” statements over the terror attack. “The spokespersons have been strictly told they should handle it sensitively,” said a source.
With the Congress also choosing to react in a measured way, the BJP spokespersons were asked not to make any statements about the attack and almost all party programmes were cancelled on Friday. “No politicising the issue,” said a party leader.
Union ministers have been asked to be present at funeral ceremonies of all the victims in their respective states and state unit leaders and morcha office-bearers have been asked to “join the families to share their grief”. “The party’s presence in sharing their pain should be visible. People should feel that the BJP is with them,” said a party leader. BJP chief Amit Shah, who was at the party headquarters on Friday after his programme in Patna was cancelled, is also learnt to have spoken to chief ministers and state unit heads about it.
“We have been asked to convey to the state units that no one from the state should make any statement calling for war with Pakistan. But party workers have been asked to join if there is an exhibition of sentiments by the people,” said a leader.
With the BJP banking on national security, the party would have to take all steps to see that the gravity of the Pulwama attack and the anguish among the people against it should not affect their approach to the party. Public anger should be directed at Pakistan only and it cannot be allowed to turn against the party-led government. In his first address after the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked every political leader to stand united.
It is learnt that leaders of BJP as well as Sangh Parivar have been urged to handle the situation keeping in mind that national security is a major plank of the party. Party sources said the leadership was upset with Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s statement that there was intelligence failure from the Indian side. “It was a rubbish statement. Intelligence has to be lucky every time while terrorists have to be lucky once. Such a statement should have been avoided,” a senior party leader said.
BJP leaders admitted that there is no “clarity” on how the country should respond to the attack. “There is not much scope for another surgical strike. We have had it, and we have made them heroes,” said a leader. Another added, “What will we attack in another surgical strike? There are no concrete structures across the border (or LoC) to destroy. So, the first step would be to get all the nations, including China, with us.”
Earlier in the day, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told The Indian Express, “The priority will be this — how will you make Pakistan accountable for it. For that, whatever steps needed, tactically, strategically and diplomatically, will be taken.”