BJP Supporter In Amroha Rally

Rally Report: Watch Modi Fans Speak Up

LokMarg visited Narendra Modi’s public meeting in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, on April 5 and spoke to his supporters who had come to attend the rally. Most of them would bear hardships but “still vote for Modi”.

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Rally Report – ‘India Blessed To Have Modi’

LokMarg met Satpal Sain, 52, at the BJP rally in Amroha on April 5. Sain tells LokMarg why he will remain loyal to Modi ji and contribute in any which way to see him remain seated in the Prime Minister’s chair.

Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi ji is a true leader. If he says something, he will do it. You can see that spirit in his stand on Kashmir and Pakistan. Ghus ke maara, attack ke jawab me, ek baar nahi kai baar (we entered into Pakistan territory to give them a reply in its own coin, not once but twice). Although I was always inclined toward the BJP policies on running the country, I am particularly a great fan of Modi ji. India is blessed to have a leader like him in such corrupt times.

There were many people in my village who wanted to just have a glimpse of Modi ji, and I decided it was a god send opportunity for people of my village to see him in person. Yes, the heat is too much and some of those who came with me could not bear the crowd. Saans nahi aa rahi thi wahan par (it was difficult to breathe at the venue). So, after having seen Modi ji walking down from his copter, we came out. Dekh liya, bas ho gaya (I have had a glimpse of him, that is more than enough).

I firmly believe that this country is safe in Modi ji’s hands and he will create more job opportunities in his next term. It takes time to overhaul the system rotting since many decades. The charge that Modi ji did not keep his word is wrong and false propaganda by opposition Congress. You expect him to cleanse the system which was poisoned over six decades.

I ask you, what do you want from a prime minister? He is one man who is not afraid of wielding a broom to clean the street. This is a symbolic gesture and it sends a message to all government employees to go and work. He has given us self-respect as an Indian, as a farmer and as a Hindu. We have full faith in his word. Under his leadership, India will reach new heights. Our village youth too are his great supporters. If he had not created jobs and other skill India opportunities, do you think the youth would have supported him. Just take a look around you. There are men of all age and class all over. Such is his appeal. You have to agree to this that there is no leader today of his stature and his party will be back by another thumping win this year.

l to Modi ji and contribute in any which way to see him remain seated in the Prime Minister’s chair.

Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi ji is a true leader. If he says something, he will do it. You can see that spirit in his stand on Kashmir and Pakistan. Ghus ke maara, attack ke jawab me, ek baar nahi kai baar (we entered into Pakistan territory to give them a reply in its own coin, not once but twice). Although I was always inclined toward the BJP policies on running the country, I am particularly a great fan of Modi ji. India is blessed to have a leader like him in such corrupt times.

There were many people in my village who wanted to just have a glimpse of Modi ji, and I decided it was a god send opportunity for people of my village to see him in person. Yes, the heat is too much and some of those who came with me could not bear the crowd. Saans nahi aa rahi thi wahan par (it was difficult to breathe at the venue). So, after having seen Modi ji walking down from his copter, we came out. Dekh liya, bas ho gaya (I have had a glimpse of him, that is more than enough).

I firmly believe that this country is safe in Modi ji’s hands and he will create more job opportunities in his next term. It takes time to overhaul the system rotting since many decades. The charge that Modi ji did not keep his word is wrong and false propaganda by opposition Congress. You expect him to cleanse the system which was poisoned over six decades.

I ask you, what do you want from a prime minister? He is one man who is not afraid of wielding a broom to clean the street. This is a symbolic gesture and it sends a message to all government employees to go and work. He has given us self-respect as an Indian, as a farmer and as a Hindu. We have full faith in his word. Under his leadership, India will reach new heights. Our village youth too are his great supporters. If he had not created jobs and other skill India opportunities, do you think the youth would have supported him. Just take a look around you. There are men of all age and class all over. Such is his appeal. You have to agree to this that there is no leader today of his stature and his party will be back by another thumping win this year.

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BJP Ahead Of Rivals In Campaigning

BJP Has A Clear Advantage Over Rival Parties

While a lot can change in the course of a prolonged campaign, but as of today, the BJP enjoys a clear edge over its opponents

As political parties in India hit the campaign trail for next month’s Lok Sabha elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party looks to be ahead of its rivals, who are still struggling to put up a united front or come up with an effective and credible narrative to take on the saffron party. 

To begin with, the BJP has entered the race with a clear advantage after it emerged as the central pole of Indian polity following its incredible win in the last general election and the subsequent string of victories it notched up in state assemblies. 

This has set the stage for a “BJP vs others” battle.

Undeniably, the election has just got underway and a lot can change in the course of the prolonged campaign, but as of today, the BJP enjoys a clear edge over its opponents. Five factors are working in favor of the saffron party: strong leadership, an effective narrative, a well-oiled party organization, a killer instinct and the alacrity with which it placated its angry allies. Of course, the BJP is also helped by the fact that it faces a fragmented opposition with no clear single leader.

The BJP’s biggest asset is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As in the case of Gujarat assembly polls and the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the coming electoral contest is all about Modi. The BJP and its candidates contesting elections are secondary as Modi has succeeded in converting India’s Parliamentary polls into a Presidential-style contest.

Modi’s projection and acceptance as a strong, decisive leader have strengthened the public perception that no one in the opposition camp can match up to him. The Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot air strikes have enhanced the aura surrounding Modi who is being publicized as the only leader who can be trusted to give primacy to India’s national security.

Modi swept the last election with the promise of “ache din” to the electorate which was mesmerized both by his powerful oratory and his Gujarat model of development. Last time he went to the people as a challenger while in this election he is approaching them an incumbent, having been in power for five years. But, it is to his credit, that he has managed to stave off the burden of anti-incumbency despite the fact that the country is faced with a faltering economy, high unemployment, and an agrarian crisis. As a political observer rightly pointed out, people are disenchanted with Modi for not delivering on his election promises but there is no anger against him. People are willing to give him another chance on the plea that it is not possible to meet all commitments in five years.

If Modi’s leadership is working to the BJP’s advantage, the party’s firm grip on the political narrative is also helping it to set the agenda in this election. There is no doubt that before the Pulwama attack and India’s retaliatory strike against Pakistan, the Modi government had looked shaky. The BJP was on the back foot after its governments were ousted by the Congress last December in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh as the elections here were dominated by livelihood issues like joblessness and farmers’ woes. This was seen as a direct indictment of the Modi government’s policies. For once, it appeared that the BJP and Modi had been successfully pushed on the defensive.

But Pulwama and Balakot altered the political landscape in BJP’s favor. The party and the Modi got an opportunity to showcase their credentials as hawks on national security. Both lost no time in unleashing its nationalist agenda wherein anybody questioning the government on intelligence lapses in Pulwama or challenging BJP president Amit Shah’s claims on the body count in Balakot, were immediately dubbed “anti-national”.  While the opposition was left with little option but to support the government, Modi, Shah, and the BJP’s foot soldiers fanned out across the country to push their nationalist agenda. The Congress has since tried to change the narrative with the promise of a minimum income benefit scheme for the poor but there are few takers for it as jingoism and patriotism are clearly the flavors of the season.

Strong leadership and a powerful narrative may have given the BJP an edge but it is not taking any chances. Its party president Amit Shah, like Modi, is a 24/7 politician who has a firm grip on the organization and keeps the rank and file on a tight leash. He proved his mettle in 2014 as Uttar Pradesh in charge when the party swept the polls. Shah has acquired a reputation for micro-management thus ensuring that the party organization is always battle-ready.

Both Shah and Modi have a killer instinct and are not known to balk when faced with a challenge. They are also willing to walk the extra mile in their quest to retain power. Shah demonstrated this in his handling of the BJP’s demanding allies like the Shiv Sena, the Shiromani Akali and the Janata Dal (U). The BJP president did not hesitate to accommodate their demands by conceding to them in seat-sharing negotiations. The allies have since all fallen in line. Similarly, Shah also managed to persuade smaller allies like the Asom Gana Parishad to return to the BJP-Led National Democratic Alliance even though it had walked out in protest over the Citizenship Rights Bill. Showing a streak of pragmatism, the Modi government chose to go slow on this contentious legislation, which gives citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Bhutan, even though this legislation is in line with the ideology of the BJP’s mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This Bill led to strong protests in the entire North-East region but the controversial legislation is all but forgotten as the BJP thought it better to put in cold storage when it realized it was derailing its mission to take control of this region once dominated by the Congress.

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Will Lok Sabha Polls 2019 Be A Referendum On Modi?

The world’s largest democracy, a major economy but by no means prosperous, India is also the most expensive when holding its elections.

Its 2014 democratic exercise cost as much as the United States’ 2012 presidential elections, when Barack Obama was re-elected. The one beginning next month, estimated by New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies, may cost $ seven billion, or INR 50,000 crores.

Another calculation by political scientist Milan Vaishnav is of a whopping $10 billion, based on growth in expenditure incurred for two polls conducted in 2009 and 2014.  The US spent much less, $6.5 billion while electing Donald Trump in 2016.

These huge sums do not come only from the state that funds conducting of the polls. Contestants receive contributions, overt and covert, from businesses, corporate sector and the untaxed and largely invisible farm income. Experience shows that they are made with the understanding that the next government will tweak laws to help recover that money. This breeds corruption.

Should such an expensive exercise be a cacophony that it now seems?

With three weeks to go, the air is thick with hyper-nationalistic fervor triggered by last month’s terror attack in Kashmir followed by India-Pakistan aerial stand-off.

Tensions have subsided but not really ended. Speculation persists over its resumption, should there be another incident on the border or in India-controlled Kashmir. Such eventuality, assuming the world community (mainly the United States) is surprised again, is certain to sweep all other issues out of the polls.

Leaving aside madcaps (there are some on both sides of the Indo-Pak border) who think that India engineered the Pulwama attack, it seems god-sent for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and the ruling alliance.

To his credit, Modi did act tough, defying the nuclear threshold that has prevented a larger conflict, but not stopped Pakistan from using its so-called “non-state actors” for staging terror attacks. This was something his predecessors Manmohan Singh (in 2008 Mumbai terror attacks) and Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Kargil-1999, and attack on Indian Parliament-2001)  had not. Modi then swept the nation mounting an “I will not let the country down” campaign, converting the polls campaign into one referendum on national security.

His party, its ideological affiliates and a huge army of cyber warriors troll anyone critical of security lapses and/or seeking details of what precisely happened on the border.

The elections are now divided pre and post-Pulwama. The opposition is on the back-foot. As loyalty to the nation of those who ask questions, howsoever legitimate, is questioned, undoubtedly, this means political/electoral gains and losses.

People across the spectrum — media, academics and security experts among retired soldiers and diplomats – even individual families – are divided. Some ruling alliance stalwarts have gleefully given themselves more seats than they hoped to win earlier in parliament and state legislatures thanks to the border incidents. With Modi being projected as the superhero pandering to popular yearning of a strong leader, the pitch is queered against the opposition.  

However, past electoral outcomes have been mixed and indicate that there are limits to all this. For one, Kashmir and war with Pakistan do not resonate in India’s south as they do in the north and the west. Polls were won after conflicts, but not swept, be it in 1971 when Congress’ Indira Gandhi helped breaking-up of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh. BJP’s Vajpayee got the same numbers after the Kargil conflict in 1999. 

Electoral verdicts do not always match popular sentiments. The BJP lost in Uttar Pradesh 11 months after its cadres demolished the 16th century Babri Masjid in 1992.  And although it dubbed Manmohan Singh India’s “weakest prime minister” and BJP veteran L K Advani used the pejorative ‘nikamma’ (hopeless) after the terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008, the Congress improved its parliamentary majority and Singh got a second term.

But popular sentiments yielded results post-“surgical strikes” in Kashmir in 2016 by Modi Government. The BJP swept the polls in Uttar Pradesh despite the miseries caused by demonetization of the currency. Political engineering helped consolidation of the majority community’s vote at the expense the minority Muslims.

Most populous UP is the principal battleground now where the BJP is being seriously challenged by Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. Credible reports indicate that the Modi campaign is working. That 11 of the 44 soldiers who died in Pulwama were from the state matters. But, this is as-of-now, since the difficult-to-fathom public mood can change. And none can fathom how the rural mind, in UP and elsewhere, perceives these polls.

Arguably, the public at large is more worried about dal-roti. If it is looking for options other than Modi, it doesn’t find credible faces among the opposition. What began as Modi-versus-the-rest effort has stuttered. Some contenders have emerged following state-level alliances, but a credible national alternative is absent.   

The communists who forged alternative fronts in the past, providing political edge by helping formulate socio-economic common minimum programme have become irrelevant.

Next, the Congress has failed to accept allies and also being acceptable as a key opposition driver. Its alliance-making is non-starter. Its past gives it a misplaced sense of entitlement. Rahul Gandhi, despite his belated surge at the national level in the last one year and winning in three key states, cannot match up against the prime ministerial ambitions of numerous state satraps. 

The impact of its ‘brahmastra’, the most potent weapon Priyanka Gandhi, will be known only when results are out. Rahul’s Ailing mother and former party chief Sonia is contesting to save her turf. Those who yearn for Congress’ return, if only as a lesser evil, may be in for a disappointment.

The Pulwama plank seems to have stonewalled the Rafael deal debate. It also excludes any discourse on day-to-day issues, especially on the troubled economy. The government version dominates through its massive propaganda machinery. Bulk of the media, both mainstream and social, the key urban drivers, are divided on pro and anti- government lines.

Politicians are generally not economists. And even if they are, they remain politicians first. Modi too is a politician, and a good one at that. All his major moves are politically motivated. His deft political engineering, now topped with “Pulwama patriotism”, has muted discussion on unemployment with job growth at its lowest in 40 years after statistics officially put out but discredited by the government itself.

His government continues to project demonetization of 86 percent of the currency notes three years ago in terms of curbing black money and denial of funds to militant bodies, when subsequent indicators have shown otherwise.   

Falling exports have yet to catch up the 2013-14 level. Industrial growth in January slowed down to 1.7 percent compared to the 2.6 percent in factory output in December last year. The GDP remains under-7 percent.

Equally serious is the farm distress. Thousands unable to repay debts have committed suicide. Minimum support price for farm produce and waiving of farm loans have come too late in the day.  Low inflation has been driven by falling food prices, cutting farmers’ incomes and pushing up debt levels. About 800 million depend on farming for their livelihood.

With Saudi Arabia, the largest source, committed to production cuts to keep crude oil prices low, it seems unlikely that India’s fuel and energy costs, a key factor for the economy, will stay soft for long. And with political parties opening the spending spigot in a bid to woo voters, inflationary impulses will quicken.

Modi remains way ahead of his rivals. But there is a risk to democrcy. Political analyst Vijay Sanghvi says Modi has isolated himself thanks to his governance style. “He has reduced the status and stature of every minister and party leader. No one informs him of rampant growth of corruption at lower levels.  Unemployment is more hurting as low grade jobs are lost.”

The newest campaign slogan “Modi Hai toh Mumqin Hai” (It’s possible with Modi) reinforces this and places him as the centerpiece of a nationwide campaign. 

This election is for the soul of India and its pluralism. But it would also be a referendum on Modi.

The writer can be reached at mahendraved07@gmail.com

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#RealChowkidar – ‘BJP's New Lollypop’

Mahender Singh, 72, is an ex-serviceman employed at a mid-size hotel in Gwalior. He believes the chowkidar slogan is a political lollypop. Having said that, he believes that Indian Air Force strikes inside Pakistan territory have turned the tide in favour of the BJP.

A few days back my grandson showed me a video clip on his phone. It showed people from all walks of society singing ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’, because they were inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling himself a chowkidar. Kuch jyada hi ho gaya (It was a bit over the top). Little do those hero-heroines in the video realise what it takes to be a security guard. Can anyone of them keep a watch for 12 hours every day, or work the whole night in rain and cold out in the open?

In the real world, outside political jumlebazi, people have little regard for a security guard. Have those men and women ever spoken to a guard politely? They merely expect us to open their car door and greet them with respect, without even bothering to return a smile. So there is little to get carried away by such videos; this is just advsertisement.

Like other governments, the Narendra Modi regime too has no great concern for people’s suffering. They work less but publicise big. I have faced tough times and training during my career in the Indian Army more than 35 years back. I am proud of the force and the way they have the welfare of its own people. That jazba (spirit) is missing in our political class.

But one thing has worked in favour of Narendra Modi – you can call it a stroke of luck if you want. Terrorists in Kashmir provided him an opportunity to prove his mettle to the country. After the Pulwama attack, the people were angry and Modi government sanctioned out brave Air Force to carry out strikes into Pakistan terror camps. This has had great effect on the voter’s mind. In our village and neighbouring areas, people says he is a strong leader and India needs him.

The large number of people who attended the last rites of CRPF jawans martyred in Kashmir is a point in case. The mahaul (atmosphere) of the nation wanted a counter attack on Pakistan and Modi delivered just that. You will see him return to power after 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But, let me tell you, little will change after that. Life for the common man will continue as ever. Sab aise hi chalegea.

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BJP Slams Pitroda For 'Favouring' Pak

Senior BJP leader and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday lashed out at Congress’ Sam Pitroda for questioning the outcome of air strike conducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Pakistan’s Balakot.

While speaking at the press conference in New Delhi, Jaitley said, “He believes what we did was wrong. No country in the world said this, not even the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) said this, only Pakistan was of this view. It’s unfortunate that such people are ideologues of a political party.”

Further slamming Pitroda, who is a Congress party’s overseas chief, the Union Minister said, “If the teacher is like that then his students will also be useless.”

“We will destroy the terror bases wherever it will perpetuate. Both Surgical strike and Air strike were meant to do that. We were supported by global leaders in our attempts,” he added.

This statement from Jaitley came hours after Pitroda questioned the death toll in the Balakot airstrike conducted by the IAF in Pakistan in retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack.

“If they (IAF) killed 300, its ok. All I am saying is can you give me more facts and prove it,” said Pitroda in a wide-ranging interview to ANI.

The Indian Overseas Congress chief said he didn’t know much about the Pulwama terror attack.”Don’t know much about attacks, it happens all the time. The attack happened in Mumbai also, we could have then reacted and just sent our planes but that is not the right approach. According to me, that’s not how you deal with the world,” Pitroda said.

The Congress leader argued that it was wrong to blame the entire nation (Pakistan) for the action of 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai in November 2008.

“I don’t know much about (Pulwama) attack, it happens all the time, attack happen in Mumbai Taj hotel and Oberoi hotel. We could have reacted then and sent our planes but that is not the right approach according to me that’s not how you deal with the World. Eight people come (referring to Mumbai 26/11 attacks) and do something, you don’t jump on the entire nation,” said Sam Pitroda in an interview to ANI.

Later Pitroda clarified and told ANI, “I am talking as an individual. I am talking as a scientist. I believe in reason. I believe in logic. I believe in data. I don’t believe in emotions.”

Meanwhile, commenting on Pitroda’s remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s close aide has started Pakistan National Day celebrations by “demeaning India’s armed forces”.

“The most trusted advisor and guide of the Congress President has kick-started the Pakistan National Day celebrations on behalf of the Congress, ironically by demeaning India’s armed forces. Shame,” PM Modi wrote on his Twitter wall.

(ANI)

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#PulwamaRevenge – ‘Much To Answer’

WhatsApp was the medium through which I received the news of the Pulwama terror attack that martyred more than 40 of our CRPF jawans. Thank God for small mercies! I don’t think I would have been able to bear the visuals had I seen the news suddenly come up on TV. It was a ghastly sight and left a deep scar, much like the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The attack has brought up many baffling, unanswered questions.

The most important being why were 2,500 CRPF men travelling together? Weren’t they sitting ducks in a conflict zone like Kashmir? This has to be an inside job and the government must figure out how the intelligence failure occurred.

I must say I was happy about the surgical strike at the Jaish e Mohammed camps at Balakot, but not the war cry on TV news channels and social media platform thereafter. War is not the solution. The hot-headed ones in our country forget that our war is not against Pakistan, but that our war is against the scourge of terrorism. Similarly, the war cheerleaders in Pakistan also need to understand that terror has somehow become synonymous with Pakistan as far as it world image is concerned. Why make it worse by rattling sabers?

People who are busy warmongering seemed to have signed a death warrant of sorts. Wasn’t Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s bloodied face enough to show what a war really meant? Captain Nachiketa, Captain Saurabh Kalia and Fighter Pilot Ajay Ahuja’s stories too haven’t been forgotten.

Having said that, I quite like the BJP’s decisiveness and prompt and timely action in this matter. And no, I don’t think important issues are being sidelined in the name of fighting terrorism. Agar zinda hi nahi rahenge, to baki issues ka kya karenge? — We need to be alive in the first place to talk about other issues.

There might be lack of quality jobs, but that doesn’t mean that there are no jobs. At least the middle-class has quite a few options and people need to take their local leaders to task also for job creation. These local leaders then need to meet with their senior leaders to find solutions for real issues. The government does need to take care of the lower-income group though. The government is endowed with a Cabinet so that all sections/segments of society can function smoothly. And the Cabinet should be put to proper use. I voted for Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But this time around, I think I have matured and have developed a deeper understanding of issues. I am going to keep a sharp eye on the government and see whether it delivers on all fronts, only then will I decide whether to vote for BJP or not. The individual candidate representing the area I live in, his work/credentials, would also determine which way my vote goes.

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Balakot Attack: Time To End Bilateral Diplomacy

The decision to go up the spiral ladder by NDA 2 Government and use Indian Air Force (IAF) against terrorism is a new normal. The bold air attack in the wee hours of the morning of 26 February at Balakot, on mainland Pakistan was a non-military, preemptive strike against an established training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and was not likely to be a one off attack. India has made it clear that it may resort to such attacks if Pakistan does not rein in the terrorist organisations. It showed the resolve of the elected government in India to take action against terrorists to avert future Pulwama type attacks in Jammu and Kashmir or rest of India. The retaliatory attack by Pakistan was on expected lines and was successfully averted.

Pakistan was caught off guard and in the existing hostility matrix had not factored in an air attack on its mainland or in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Initially, in denial of any damage due to the Indian insertion, Pakistan Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) stated that Indian aircrafts had violated their air space and had been chased away by the alert Pakistan Air Force planes. Once India claimed they had destroyed a JeM camp and killed between 250-300 terrorists; Pakistani authorities took a u turn and announced that this aggression on part of India would be avenged. As a riposte, ten Pakistani aircrafts including F-16s tried to violate the Indian airspace in broad day light o. 27 February but were challenged by IAF air defence aircraft ex-Awantipur. In the ensuing dog fight one Paki F-16 was brought down by the Indians and the Pakis destroyed one MIG -21 and captured Wing Commander Abhinandan who had bailed out.

In the three days from 26 to 28 February the Indian and Pakistani media went berserk and created a war hysteria. They were ably helped by retired defence officers, bureaucrats and academic defence analysts. Both the countries were stressing on their standard narratives with India insisting that Pakistan should bring to book all terrorist organisations and United Nations should put Masood Azhar on international terrorist list like Hafiz Muhammad Saeed; while Pakistan remained in a constant denial of assisting the terrorist groups. Even the gesture of releasing Wing Commander Abhinandan by Pakistan was viewed by India with suspicion and the Indian media declared that Pakistan was brought to its knees due to pressure by the international community.

I think time has come for India to consider dumping this outdated diplomatic tool of bilateralism. Bilateralism had a relevance during the Cold War when India was not part of either US or USSR alliances but was part of the non-aligned nations group. We dealt with member nations on bilateral basis inspite of the fact to which group, NATO or Warsaw Pact; was that nation belonging to. The Panchsheel Doctrine based on five tenets of bilateralism which we tried with China in late fifties failed miserably when China attacked India in 1962. During Kargil crisis and after the Balakot incidence we have sought the intervention of USA, UN, France, UK and Germany.

It is felt in some quarters that Pakistan has been totally isolated by the international community and most Indians would like to believe it. The truth is far from it and all those nations who have exhorted Pakistan to take action against terrorists have engaged Pakistan as parts of alliances in solving the Afghanistan problem whether it is US- Afghan Government-Taliban-Pakistan or Russia-Taliban-Pakistan-China group. However, Pakistan is taking symbolic actions by arresting large number of known terrorists including brother and son of Masood Azhar and restricting the moves of other terrorist groups. How sincere are the efforts of Pakistan in roping in of all terrorist groups, only time will tell.

The situation has been diffused for the time being by timely return of our pilot by Pakistan and Indian politicians are back to work for electioneering and mud-slinging onto each other. Where do we go from here? While India will be pre occupied in elections for the next three months, Pakistan will do well in showing its genuine intent by ensuring that no major terrorist incidence takes place during this period. By carrying out aerial surgical strikes deep into hinterland of Pakistan and obtaining unconditional release of its captured pilot, India has exhibited its resolve to fight terrorism fiercely. It also reserves the right to repeat the attacks as and when felt deemed.

While India has won this round on moral grounds and pressure from international community, there are yawning gaps in the capability building of the three forces. The defence acquisitions in the pipeline have to be speeded up. Whereas, we certainly need big ticket aircraft and warships, the bureaucrats and the army brass need to lower their eyes and address the needs of the infantry man on the ground who is largely deployed in insurgency areas. The infantry does not have a state of the art rifle, Sten gun, hand grenade, water bottle and modified vehicles for specialist weapons. To effectively take out terrorist leaders and minimise own casualties, infantry needs latest version of sniper rifles. Pakistan has already acquired them and is inflicting casualties to own troops on the Line of Control (LC).

With the entire Balakot incident coming as a shot in the arm, the Modi Government is likely to return to power after the elections. Regardless of which so ever party comes to power, the new government should make an attempt to engage Pakistan in talks and also work wholeheartedly to get normalcy back in the Kashmir Valley. This has been the hottest winter in the last decade as far as insurgency and violence levels are concerned in the sub-zero temperatures. The levels of alienation have gone back to 1987 levels. We should not be in a hurry to impose an elected government on people until security forces have brought in levels of insurgency under manageable limits.

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#PulwamaRevenge – ‘War Isn't An Option’

I am away from home in a faraway country. There are times I get homesick and I long to be home.  This itch to be home really reaches a pinnacle, during incidents like the Pulwama attack. The moment the news came up on my Facebook feed, I felt a sudden wave of anger and shock, but when it subsided after a few minutes, I began to join the dots together as an aware youngster, who has a mind of his own. And I began to wonder how a slip-up of this level could take place from our intelligence agencies. The security system in Delhi (even in Delhi Metro or the markets is so tight), how could things have gone unnoticed in Kashmir, where metaphorically speaking, perhaps even a bird can’t flap its wings without permission?

Questions are being raised about this massive intelligence failure and the government is answerable to all the people, who are asking these questions. I did a follow-up of all the Pulwama-related news. I was glued to the news websites and stayed away from news channels.  

The next thing I knew, India had conducted a ‘surgical strike’ at Balakot in Pakistan. Though, it might have come across as a decisive step, I have also begun to notice some chinks in BJP’s armour. I feel that they often advertise more than what they actually do at the ground-level, and that might be the undoing of the party. But the janta watches everything. Even though some are not so vocal about their opinion as others, you cannot fool everyone all the ever time.

Over the years, I have understood that war is not the solution. We need mass sensitization of people at ground level. We need genuine engagement with all parties involved in the Kashmir issue, otherwise it might be the end of us all. It is time to end power-games from both sides (India and Pakistan) and genuinely think about solving the issue. We, who were born in the 90s, have no memory of the Kargil War. But we do have memories of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and I believe we really need to put all our energies in finding a solution.

Yes, I do feel important issues have been side-lined in the wake of what happened after Pulwama. People are so busy with the idea of war that they forget the repercussions of a war. But before all the war mongering and calling war a ‘decisive action’ — just picture the bloodied face of Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman or think about the people who have lost their lives. A war between two nuclear powers spells doom for all.

The government needs to address other important issues. It seriously needs to work on job creation, or the youth will become directionless, which is not a good thing for any country. I have come to Canada in the hope of a better future, but I want to go back to India and contribute to the strengthening of its infrastructure (I am pursuing an MBA in Construction Management). We need to strengthen our home so much that no one can dare touch it. And for that, all of us need to individually contribute with our skills.

I haven’t been able to vote so far and sadly this time also it looks improbable because I have just come to Canada and can’t go back home to vote. But if I could, I would still choose to go with Modi, just because I see no other alternative. Here, I interact with people from Pakistan regularly and I must say the world is a better place with love and understanding in it. Hope the Opposition in our country can channelise the power of love and stand up strong and give us alternatives to vote for.

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