Before Pulwama attack, nationalism was not an issue for the 2019 elections. But unfortunately Pulwama happened and nationalism came to the fore front. Whole of India stood together and demanded a strict action. Modi government acted immediately and did air strikes in Pakistan. After that un-precedent chain of events happened. Rather than coming out as a Prime Minister of India in a press conference and brief nation about the attacks, Prime Minister Modi confirmed the air strikes in an election rally as a prime ministerial candidate. From that moment on wards the polarization of Pulwama started.
Why would a prime minister in the middle of war like situation do an election rally and on top of that confirm the attacks to his voters in rally? We can only speculate about the motives behind this but one thing is clear doing an election rally was more important for this prime minister.
When the war like situation calmed down, BJP leaders started leveraging the Pulwama attack. BJP leaders started throwing out absurd numbers about the number of terrorists died in the air strikes when Indian army clearly told us that they can’t for sure confirm the number of causalities. Fearing BJP is using Pulwama as a scapegoat and distracting people from main issues, opposition parties started questioning BJP’s claim about the casualties. BJP quickly proclaimed that whoever is asking these questions is questioning the integrity of army and is anti-national. This all started the debate who is national or anti-national.
Without going in to absurd trap of debating who is national or anti-national? One thing is clear, everyone appreciated BJP’s government response for the Pulwama attacks but to frame that event in to national and anti-national issue and then use that for elections agenda is very petty and demeaning politics. The question is why such a debate is important in first place especially for elections.
Modi is prime minister of India and was elected to serve India in both good and bad times. If country is attacked, Prime minister is bound to serve its duties. Prime minister should not make protecting his motherland an election agenda and beg for votes. By doing so Modi has demeaned the stature of Prime Minister Office and set a wrong precedence of using war like situations as an election tool.
By making Pulwama an election agenda, Modi has exposed himself. He has confirmed that his more than 4.5 years of government period before Pulwama was not sufficient for him to win next 5 years as prime minister of India. If that is not the case, he would have talked about real issues faced by country and given progress report about the work of his government over the last 5 years. By not doing so Modi has proved that he himself is not confident about his last 5 years of work and that is why he bowed down to the agenda of nationalism to distract people.
Comparing BJP’s performance to Congress is not right. No one is saying that Congress is a better party and should be given another chance. Congress was not the right party that is why BJP was given a historic chance in 2014. But BJP and Modi’s actions have proved that they are not much different than Congress. On the contrary much worse when we compare on the issue of polarization and politicization of nationalism.