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Straight from the lip

Minister Rathore’s militaristic posturing reduces the dignity of his office, embarrasses his government.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: September 8, 2015 12:05:46 am
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It seems that Rajyavardhan Rathore is so overcome by admiration for his prime minister that sometimes he forgets that he is a Union minister and shoots straight from the lip. In June, in support of a retaliatory cross-border operation against Manipur rebels inside Myanmar, the Union minister of state for information and broadcasting had tweeted with the hashtag 56inchrocks, giving all credit to Narendra Modi’s diplomacy. He had interpreted it, further, as a warning to Pakistan and other havens of terrorist groups in the neighbourhood. Now, Rathore has invited controversy yet again by speaking in a TV interview about the possibility of covert or special operations against persons of interest to the Indian government, who have sanctuary in Pakistan. He did say that there could be a discussion only after the event, but he should have refrained from speaking on the matter at all, instead of tantalising the viewer with the possibility that under cover, plans could already be afoot.

Mere mortals have always known that rattling sabres thoughtlessly could cause accidental injuries. It is now time for ministers to consider accepting popular wisdom, if they are not to reduce the dignity of their office. This government already has to cope with an outspoken defence minister with muscular opinions. It can do without orchestral support from the I&B ministry. Rathore should have declined to rise to the bait at the end of an interview about a different issue altogether — the steps taken by the government to resolve the one rank one pension issue. He could have restricted himself to singing the praises of the prime minister, to whose commitment OROP does owe something.

The sabre-rattling resorted to by the Pakistan army chief, Raheel Sharif, in Rawalpindi on Sunday at a commemorative event on the 1965 conflict, has been read as a response to his Indian counterpart’s recent comment, also at a 1965 commemoration, about the “swift, short nature” of future conflicts. Relations are rocky after the recent breakdown of talks between the national security advisors of the two countries, and every comment provides a fresh opportunity to strike warlike postures. In this atmosphere, it was thoughtless of the I&B minister to speak at all about the possibility of covert operations, also since they cease to be covert when they are discussed in public. And because lowering the ambient air quality does not serve the stated interests of his government, which has professed a commitment to peace in the neighbourhood.

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First published on: 08-09-2015 at 12:05:44 am
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