Narendra Modi asked everyone to shut up, became the kabhi garam kabhi naram face of BJP and led the party to victory with absolute numbers. He invited all the heads of the neighboring nations to witness his swearing in ceremony indicating a new era in India’s relationship with its neighbors.
Traditionally, BJP has always had two faces – a hardliner and a soft-liner. But Modi took up both the roles in this campaign. Now that he is the Prime Minister, the preferred face seems to be of a soft-liner.
Is the role of the hard-liners being delegated to the others?
Two days after BJP won the mandate, talking on ‘Headlines Today’, Nitin Gadkari, now a minister in Modi cabinet, for a round of interaction with the Pakistani strategic affairs expert Tariq Pirzada said, “ I want to ask my Pakistani friend, does beheading our four soldiers and taking their heads away look good on part of the Pakistani military?”
He went on “We have zero tolerance of terrorist organizations. Pakistan ne agar yeh bandh nahi kiya toh Pakistan ko iski keemat chukane padegi— Pakistan will have to pay the price if it doesn’t stop this.”
Rahul Kanwal commented, “That’s a very interesting response from the former BJP President! You can’t behead our soldiers and expect us to sit back!”
Pirzada returned, “If Mr Modi, or the BJP, come up with a strategy of launching a strike into Pakistan under a false pretense… I can tell you one thing: Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”
Gadkari retorted, “Agar aapkke paas nuclear weapons hain, toh hamare paas nahin hain kya?” (If you have nuclear weapons, don’t we also have?)
Pirzada countered, “… Our nuclear strength is equal …”
Gadkari said, “Aap yeh dhamki Manmohan Singh ko dijiye, humko math dijiye…” (Give this threat to Manmohan Singh, not to us.)
Finally Pirzada backed out, “Nahin, nahin, yeh dhamki nahin hai! Yeh… No, no, this is not a threat.”
Falling for the Congress trap (Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant said that it was expected that Shiv Sena would make its stand clear on presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but its silence shows that its earlier anti-Pakistan stand was just for political convenience.) Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray reacted immediately and said that Narendra Modi will have to use the ‘Nuclear Button’ if Pakistan refuses to mend its ways. Thackeray even said that Modi’s government has been brought to power ‘to settle the issues of national security, terrorism and infiltration, once for all’.
This statement comes a day before Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to visit the country to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony for the post of Prime Minister.
Both India and Pakistan are nuclear weapons states and have close to 100 warheads, each.
India has pledged ‘no first use policy’ against only non-nuclear weapon states.
On the other hand, Pakistan is yet to sign the ‘no first policy’ but it has reiterated that it would only use its nuclear weapons for its defense.
Be that as it may but to talk of nuclear attacks appears a little churlish, when Narendra Modi seems trying to open a Vajpayee chapter with Pakistan and to improve India’s relationship with all the neighbors.
But will ‘the hardliners’ allow him to do it?