Gujarat elections: Modi has put India in danger by raising Pakistan bogey

The prime minister remains unconcerned about his crass language that doesn’t go well with the high office he is holding.

 |  6-minute read |   13-12-2017
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Make no mistake about it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unusual allegation against his predecessor Manmohan Singh - of conspiring with Pakistan to install a Congress government in Gujarat - ahead of the last round of voting for the state Assembly polls, was his last-ditch effort to swing the mood of the Hindu voters in favour of the BJP.

The prime minister had tried a similar tactic in the middle of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections earlier this year when he polarised the voters with his “kabristan-shamshan” and “Diwali-Ramzan” remarks by declaring at a public rally that if there are “kabristans” or Muslim graveyards, there should be enough “shamshan” or cremation ground for Hindus, too, and if electricity is ensured during Ramzan it should be ensured during Diwali too.

There was nothing "wrong or objectionable" about these remarks which constituted street-smart thinking on part of Modi. With these clever remarks Modi’s BJP laughed all the way to the hustings and scored an unprecedented victory in UP Assembly polls.

modi-pti___121317010547.jpgImage: PTI photo

But this time by dragging Pakistan into the domestic political narrative, PM Modi has crossed all the red lines one could think of. On December 10, while addressing an election rally in Palanpur, PM Modi referred to some recent unverified reports, which he called "sensational", and claimed that a “secret meeting” was held on December 6 at the residence of now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in New Delhi in which Pakistani high commissioner Sohail Mahmood and former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri were present. Other dignitaries present at the meeting included Manmohan Singh, former vice-president Hamid Ansari, former foreign minister K Natwar Singh, former Indian Army chief Deepak Kapoor, former foreign secretary Salman Haider and three former Indian high commissioners to Pakistan TCA Raghavan, Sharat Sabharwal and KS Bajpai.

"What was the reason for holding such a secret meeting, especially when an election is going on in Gujarat," PM Modi said at the election rally. He came up with yet another innuendo: “A former Pakistan army director general, Arshad Rafique, had said veteran Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Ahmed Patel should be made the chief minister of Gujarat.” 

Then there was yet another outlandish remark by PM Modi which he made against Mani Shankar Aiyar on December 8. Sample the full remark: “After I became prime minister, this man (Aiyar) went to Pakistan and met some Pakistanis. All this is available on social media. In that meeting, he is seen discussing with Pakistanis that ‘jab tak Modi ko raaste se hataya nahi jata... (until Modi is not removed from the way), the relations between India and Pakistan can’t improve’. Someone tell me what is the meaning of ‘raaste se hatana’. You had gone to Pakistan to give my ‘supari’, you wanted to give Modi’s ‘supari’.”

Everybody knows that Narendra Modi is a shrewd politician. Unlike his BJP predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he doesn’t have an image of a statesman, nor does he have any pretensions of being a statesman. Even after being the prime minister of India for last three and a half years, Modi hasn’t mellowed down one bit and still behaves like a WWF wrestler in the political arena. Decorum or restrained speech aren’t his forte and he remains crassly unconcerned about the kind of language (like “supaari”) that doesn’t go well with the high office he is holding.

All that he’s concerned with is winning the elections, whatever it takes. His election speeches are more like the high-octane dialogues from Bollywood action films and he is convinced that by using words like “supaari” he establishes a direct connect with the voters. So far, he has proven to be right every time and has seldom tasted electoral failures with only two exceptions when he lost Delhi and Bihar Assembly elections.

But this time PM Modi has crossed all lines by dragging Pakistan into the Gujarat elections and accusing the Congress party of conspiring with the neighbouring country. He has levelled a serious charge against the Pakistani envoy without citing proof. The obvious question is if he has reports that the Pakistani envoy was busy hatching political conspiracies in collusion with any Indian opposition party then what stops him from declaring the envoy persona non-grata? 

Only one of the two scenarios can be true. Either PM Modi’s charges against Sohail Mahmood are incorrect, or further stay of Mahmood as Pakistani high commissioner in India is untenable and his continuance on this post is a reflection of decision-making paralysis of the Modi government. But both the situations cannot co-exist.

What’s more, Modi has with one stroke destroyed the credibility and image of several high offices by insinuating that a former prime minister, a former foreign minister, a former Army chief, a former foreign secretary and three former Indian high commissioners to Pakistan were conspiring with an inimical foreign power with which India has fought three full-blown wars and a limited war in Kargil 18 years ago.

His outlandish remarks trigger an important question: how seriously heads of armed forces would take a PM who levels wild and unsubstantiated allegations involving India’s neighbours?

No other Indian PM has levelled such serious allegations against former PMs and accused them of colluding with Pakistan and that too in context of a mere state Assembly elections. What will happen when he is canvassing for his party in the next General Elections? To what extent will he go in the 2019? At this rate, he would declare war against Pakistan from an election rally podium. The most alarming thing is that not a single sane voice has emerged from within the BJP reminding the PM of the golden words: "Look before you leap, think before you speak."

In this context, Manmohan Singh's unusually strong-worded scathing rebuttal needs to be weighed in wherein the former PM remarked: “Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of the prime minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable. Sadly and  regrettably, Modi is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former prime minister and Army chief.”

Modi’s hectoring spells danger for India as a whole, and not just India-Pakistan relations. His rhetoric may well intensify should the BJP win Gujarat. If that were to happen, it will be a grave misfortune for the nation.

Also read: For a PM like Modi to allege Pakistan interfered in Gujarat elections is sad and disappointing

 

Writer

Rajeev Sharma Rajeev Sharma @kishkindha

The writer is an independent journalist and a strategic analyst.

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