Stand by to launchhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/devendra-fadnavis-pankaja-munde-rahul-gandhi-balaot-airstrike-5691210/

Stand by to launch

Maharashtra ministers dream of using amateur rocketry to rid themselves of critics. It is a futile quest

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The campaign trail inspires free speech, but rarely is it cartoonish. If only it were so childishly easy to be rid of critics.

On Sunday, Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde had suggested to the gentle people of Jalna that opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, who sought evidence for strikes against Pakistan, should be sent packing overseas with a bomb tied to them. Outshone momentarily in a down and dirty election campaign, her chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has now weighed in with the specifics: If the ruling party had known that proof would be required from Balakot, they would have strapped opposition leaders to the missiles, to allow them to see the action up close and personal.

The campaign trail inspires free speech, but rarely is it cartoonish. If only it were so childishly easy to be rid of critics. The rhetoric from Maharashtra recalls the 2003 Swedish viral video Crazy Frog, which riffed on the theme track of Beverly Hills Cop and turned into a global music hit. The annoying Frog is targeted with a missile by a hunter-killer robot and in the fog of war, finds itself straddling the very same missile as it runs rogue and hurtles towards the robot and its owner. They are wiped out. The annoying Frog survives. On a calmer note, there’s a parody of Carlos Castaneda, also involving frogs, where the seeker asks: “How did you find me?” The seer’s answer: “Little frog, I tied myself to a stone and threw the stone in your direction.”

Throwaway solutions and rocket-assisted transportation. The sense of annoyance is palpable, for the operation, which should have served as sparkling clean lighter fluid for the poll campaign, got caught up in controversies about an F16 like Schrodinger’s cat, which both crashed and did not crash, a chopper which definitely crashed, importunate questions about terrorist casualties, and boring, tiresome wars between nationalists and anti-nationals. It’s enough to light a fuse under anyone.