Surgical strikes: Modi govt must handle unpleasant questions with maturity, not rancour

Written by | October 5, 2016 | 0

So, what if Sanjay Nirupam, Arvind Kejriwal or any ‘aam aadmi’ raises questions on the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army on 29 September?

Raising questions is the privilege a democracy offers to its citizens: The promise of free speech, not an anti-national activity, certainly (in this case) not disrespectful to our jawans who put their lives at risk at every moment of their lives, not just during surgical strikes. Every citizen of India has an absolute right to ask questions to the elected government, and guess what, even the unpleasant ones.

That’s what differentiates this country from a fake republic in our neighborhood where the government works by remote control.
Let’s get one thing clear. By making a big controversy out of such questions on an issue of national interest, we are making ourselves an object of ridicule and thus, belittling a brave act by our jawans. That is precisely what Union minister Uma Bharti did when she said in Pune that politicians who “doubt the army’s surgical strike should take Pakistani citizenship”.

“Those leaders who say that if Pakistan is demanding evidence about the surgical strike, they should be given the evidence; such people should take the citizenship of Pakistan,” Bharti told reporters in Pune.

Now, this isn’t the way to silence critics and questioners. The world is watching how the largest democracy in the world deals with criticism. We don’t want to send signal that we do so by awarding Pakistan citizenship to the questioners. There are two facts worth mentioning here that tells us why the Narendra Modi government needs to respond to questions on the surgical strikes.

First, that this wasn’t the first instance of across-the-LoC surgical attacks is something security experts have said on multiple platforms. Even during the time of the UPA government, there were cross-border raids. Former Congress minister P Chidambaram has gone on record as saying that the army had conducted major surgical strikes across the LoC in 2013. It’s just that those operations were not announced to the world by the then government. The army was always vigilant and always did its job, whether or not its actions were publicised.

Second, no one can deny that for the Modi government, the recent surgical strike has been a major face-saver, after the Uri attack. Emotions were riding high and every Indian craved Pakistani blood — war or otherwise. Modi had good political reasons to walk the talk and show the world that the glory of his 56-inch chest isn’t a myth. If he failed to act, the inaction would have backfired badly.

Filed in: National

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