New Delhi/Churu (Rajasthan): A day after he inaugurated the emotive, solemn and stately National War Memorial dedicated to slain soldiers of Independent India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the nation from an election rally in Churu, Rajasthan, to flex the taut muscles of a “new India” fashioned under his leadership, and both assured and boasted, repeatedly, that the “country is in safe hands”.
“Desh surakshit haathon mein hai,” Mr Modi said often in his speech. Though Mr Modi didn’t make a direct reference to the airstrikes even once, he began his speech by saying that he understood very well the sentiment, excitement and enthusiasm of the people present.
I understand your josh, as today is that sort of day, he said, and at the beginning of his speech paid his respect to “our heroes in the armed forces”. “Nothing is above nation. Those who serve the nation, everyone who is engaged in nation building, Pradhan Sevak once again greets them,” he said.
As some airstrikes details remained undisclosed, contradictory claims and clips of video games were doing the rounds on WhatsApp groups, in the absence of real material proof Mr Modi turned to rhetoric to rouse proud passions. Mr Modi, who began and ended his speech by asking people to clench their fists, raise both their hands and chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, kept weaving in words like “shakti”, “veer saput”, “mamata” to keep on topic and create moments to ask the audience rhetorical questions.
“Kaun si takat hai”, he asked, is responsible for this decisive, powerful India that is finally responding to terror.
Met with baffled silence, the Prime Minister asked again, and then again, almost goading the crowd to chant “Modi, Modi”. The moment it did, he promptly said, “Not Modi. You, and your vote.”
After sending the message across the country and the LoC that it can’t be business as usual, that terror will beget a military response, overt and covert, from the Modi government, he spoke of PM-Kisan cash assistance to farmers across the country, except in Congress-ruled states that have decided not to join the scheme.
In 2014, the Modi government came to power with a comfortable majority on the promise of development for all. But five years later, with Lok Sabha elections due soon, and the BJP’s economic record — from job creation and farm distress, to the impact on businesses and real estate — quite obviously wretched despite the brazen skulduggery, the party is banking on returning to power on the promise of a decisive leadership, selling safety in times of insecurity.
The airstrikes near the town of Balakot, some 50 kms from LoC, is the deepest cross-border raid launched by India since its 1971 war with Pakistan.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted that if the airstrikes took place in “Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), it is a major incursion and a significant strike by the IAF planes… However, if it’s Bala Kote in Poonch sector, along the LoC, it’s a largely symbolic strike because at this time of the year forward launch pads and militant camps are empty and non-functional.”...