NEW DELHI: PM Narendra Modi was upbeat when a senior minister met him on Thursday morning. Reports that Army units had returned safely after hitting terror launch-pads in PoK clearly buoyed the PM, who was under attack for not delivering on his tough talk.
The need to “teach a lesson” to the Pakistani establishment was being keenly experienced in the top rungs of the government in the light of inflamed public opinion following the Uri attack . “There is a need to impose some costs,” a BJP member said a day before the cross-LoC strikes, summing up the mood. The action was instantly welcomed by party functionaries.
Modi’s decision carries the risk of escalation of the showdown and BJP officials said the Centre was prepared for that possibility. Pakistan had been forced to bear the risks of adventurism and accept that henceforth the costs wouldn’t be India’s alone. This was at the centre of the shift the PM affected in his Pakistan policy.
If the government can maintain the advantage it has gained, the cross-LoC raids will be a boost to the PM’s political fortunes when opinion polls show him enjoying a high popularity rating. Apart from silencing critics accusing him of non-action, it should help BJP ahead of the UP polls where it is pitted in a tough contest with SP and BSP .
Winning UP is important in the light of BJP’s defeat in Bihar last year and will be a morale booster for elections in Karnataka and Gujarat in the run-up to the 2019 LS polls.
The highly provocative strike at Uri, blamed on the Jaish-e-Mohammed , was a political test for the PM halfway into his tenure. The location of the camp within a bend in the LoC made it amply clear that terrorists could not have crossed over without the assistance of the Pakistan military .
As opponents began taunting the PM, reminding him of his election speeches promising to deal firmly with Pakistan, the pressure built up on Modi. He warned Pakistan at Kozhikode on Saturday that India would not forget Uri, but gave no hint of military reprisals.
The Army’s strikes will sustain Modi’s claim to lead a decisive government and can put him in a different league of India’s notable PMs.Though his career ended in a defeat, A B Vajpayee displayed the political conviction in conducting Pokhran II. But Vajpayee, despite a massive mobilisation after the 2001 attack on Parliament, did not cross the LoC. Modi did.