Amit Shah
File photo of BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi | PTI
Text Size:
  • 5.6K

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have laid some ground rules after the Pulwama attack, urging all parties to “stay away from politics”, but his own party seems to be flouting that very rule, strategically weaving the incident into its political campaign in the last few days.

Both Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in their public addresses in the last few days have actively referred to Thursday’s terror strike that killed 40 CRPF personnel, launching blistering attacks on Pakistan and claiming their government will avenge.

The statements come as both the leaders attempt to make the attack a part of their political narrative in the run-up to the 2019 polls.

From saying “every drop of tear shed will be avenged” to claiming the sacrifices of the CRPF personnel will not be wasted since “it is not the Congress but BJP at the Centre”, Modi and Shah have together ensured Pulwama finds mention in their political speeches.

While the Congress — whose president Rahul Gandhi had said the party will support the government and security forces — has said the BJP is “shamelessly politicising” the issue, the ruling party claims its leaders are merely “expressing their feelings about the tragic incident”.

Congress attacks, BJP defends

Priyanka Chaturvedi, convenor of AICC communication and national spokesperson, said, “The BJP is shamelessly politicising the tragic incident. It goes to show their level of desperation.”

“In the spirit of the nation, the Congress party decided it was not time to do politics but BJP is not following the same rule. They continue to try to take political mileage from it.”

“Under this government, there has been an increase in terrorism and the number of soldiers who have died but they continue with their chest thumping,” said Chaturvedi.

The BJP, meanwhile, denied any politicisation of the worst terror attack on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

“How is this politicising? If something happens in the country, won’t we express what we feel about it? Both our leaders are attending pre-decided programmes,” said BJP national spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri.

“When such a big and tragic incident occurs, if they don’t talk about it then people will say they are not speaking and if they do, they are being criticised,” said Shastri.

Also read: Action, outcome & Modi: What BJP believes will determine impact of Pulwama on LS polls

What Modi has said

The day after the deadly attack, while both Modi and Shah cancelled their political rallies, the PM continued with his government programmes that included public speeches. However, since the PM often mixes his official programmes with political speeches, the lines between the two get blurred.

While speaking at the flagging-off ceremony of Indian Railways’ Vande Bharat Express Friday morning, Modi urged “everyone” to rise above politics.

“It is an emotional and sensitive time. Whether in the government or opposition, we must stay away from politics,” he said.

However, in the same speech, which was his first public address after the attack, Modi said, “A befitting reply will be given to the perpetrators of the heinous attack and their patrons. No force will succeed in disturbing peace, progress and stability of India.”

The prime minister may have called for not politicising the sensitive issue, but he has made sure to bring the issue up in each of his speeches since, raising the pitch on each occasion.

‘New India’

Consider these examples.

In Jhansi, Friday afternoon, Modi inaugurated development projects in Bundelkhand region.

“The sacrifice of our jawans will not go waste. I want to give this assurance to 130 crore Indians from the land of the brave — Jhansi. The perpetrators of Pulwama and its conspirators will be punished,” he declared.

“Our neighbouring country has forgotten this is an India of new policies and new customs.”

The talk of a “new India”, however, did not quite end there.

“Ours is a new India with new methods and policies, and the world will experience this now. Those who spray bullets or those who provide guns and bombs to target our soldiers, will not be spared,” Modi said at a public meeting in Maharashtra’s Dhule after inaugurating development projects Saturday.

“We will not allow them to sleep in peace,” the PM said, promising that “each drop of tear would be avenged”.

In Yavatmal in Maharashtra the same day, Modi attacked Pakistan and said the country had become a “synonym for terrorism”.

“Our jawans will decide what, where, when and how the perpetrators of the Pulwama attack will be punished,” Modi said.

On Sunday, the prime minister was in Bihar to inaugurate some more development projects. But like the previous few instances, he used the platform to highlight his rage as well as intent over the Pulwama attack.

“To the people who have gathered here, I would like to say the fire that is raging in your bosoms is in my heart too,” he said.

Also read: BJP tells MPs not to speak on Pulwama attack, but calls for ‘vengeance’ ring loud

What Shah has said

If Modi used his speeches to underscore his government’s intent and commitment to “avenge” Pulwama, Shah took it a notch higher.

The BJP president, known for his aggressive politics, chose to directly make a pitch for his party.

“I pay my tributes to Assam’s son Maneswar Basumatary, along with the other CRPF personnel. Their sacrifice won’t go in vain as it’s not the Congress government which is at the Centre, it is the BJP which is at the Centre,” Shah said while addressing a rally in Lakhimpur, Assam, Sunday.

Shah decided to use the Pulwama incident to talk about the larger issue of national security, drawing a dubious link between it and the situation of illegal immigration in Assam and how his party would “not allow Assam to become another Kashmir”.

“BJP government brought NRC here. We will not allow Assam to become another Kashmir. It is our commitment that with the help of NRC, we will deport each and every infiltrator out of Assam,” he added.

To be sure, the NRC process is monitored by the Supreme Court, which has determined the timeline for it. The exercise started under the Congress government in the state in 2015, and when the BJP government came to power in 2016, it carried it forward according to the court’s instructions.

Get the PrintEssential to make sense of the day's key developments

  • 5.6K
8 Comments Share Your Views


  1. A good leader and PM should have addressed the nation to build confidence and appeal to stay calm including advising his party and others as well not politicalise the tragedy.
    Soon after all parties including Congress gave unflinching support. Within five when the families were mourning both Modi and Shah took the lead to be ahead of others to use tragedy for political gain. Now others are following

  2. How come it’s this politizing ? There are government and they need to keep on communicating to people assure of what they are doing. It appears wherever they do is wrong in the eyes of whole ThePrint’s journalist. Over the years it has been very baised opinion against government. Mind you I am not Modibhakt but was great follower of SG’s writting.

  3. Extremely sad though the Pulwama incident is, there is no denying that it has filled Modi-Shah duo and the entire Hindutva brigade with a new surge of adrenaline!! The very next day Mr Modi left it to his junior Mr Rajnath Singh to talk solidarity with all opposition parties while he himself cut lose on the campaign trail talking “revenge against Pakistan” with great gusto, hoping both to assure as well as impress the voters! Was that wise, or a decent thing to do?! (After attack on Taj Mehal Hotel in 2008, home minister Shivraj Patil had drawn great flak, and very deservingly, for changing his dresses between press briefings!) For the moment, please consider this:


    2) Or, has Pakistan laid a TRAP for India; it wants Narendra Modi to walk into it so Pakistan can, this time, react with great ferocity, who knows, perhaps even with a concerted attack from China on the Eastern flank, to give a bloody nose to our beloved country — only to ensure that Narendra Modi and his BJP stand disgraced in the eyes of Indians for all times to come??

    3) Or, in the complete list of possibilities, remote and not-so-remote, there is one more shrewd arrangement of pawns on the chessboard that cannot be rejected out of hand — the Pulwana blast was unwittingly encouraged by LOCAL SYMPATHIZERS of the present government when they saw it losing ground due to incessant criticisms by the opposition including about the Rafale, by DELIBERATELY IGNORING THE FACT THAT THE CONVOY MOVEMENT WAS OCCURRING SO CLOSE TO AFZAL GURU’S DEATH ANNIVERSARY, believing that some terror attach will create a surgical strike type possibility which will give the government a nationwide uniting narrative, foolishly not realizing that the attack MIGHT TURN OUT TO BE SO HUGE??!!!

    I don’t mind if anyone calls me names for thinking up the third possibility. I am not alone in this; there must be thousands and thousands of we Indians who must be mulling this suspicion in their mind. No one can call ALL OF US “desh-drohis”!!

    Of the three possibilities listed above, 1) does not look likely to me though that is the one being drummed up the most, indirectly, by the establishment and its supporters when they talk of “teaching Pakistan a lesson”. Possibility 2) will change nothing on the Kashmir front, that problem will still remain, though we will stand a REAL CHANCE of losing Arunachal Pradesh.

    Possibility 3) is something more and more people will start believing as time passes before and after the elections. Honestly, if you promise me that you won’t stick a bullet in my head for saying so, I already believe it!

  4. National security is a legitimate issue to discuss in the general election campaign. Over the last few years, our diplomacy has raised the issue of terrorism and Pakistan’s role in promoting it in virtually each global forum, including the annual UNGA address. The tragedy in Pulwama, although of a higher order of magnitude, is part of an escalating spiral of violence and loss of lives in Kashmir. The figures are well documented. So in a manner that is calm, measured and non polemical, it needs to be debated. What would be respectful of the armed forces, whom we all admire, is to assign the successes which take place from time to time to their professionalism and valour, not publicise individual operations. One still remembers RM Manohar Parrikar’s comment that the armed forces were in a state of stupor till he made them conscious of their prowess. They were winning the 1971 war when he was in high school.

    • Please see that Modi as a PM isn’t saying this. It’s Amit Shah who as a BJP party chief is saying. So there is a big difference and I was referring to Modi. We also have Congress people politicising it to the lowest level suggesting that Kashmir attack is because of Modi. Besides what Congress could do after 26/11? MMS made a big talk after 26/11 incident and promised that attackers and conspirators will be brought to justice. What has happened till now?

    • Modi as a PM didn’t say so. Amit Shah as a BJP chief saying so. Besides many Congress politicians and left-leaning intellectuals are blaming Modi for Kashmir attack. Is this not a politicisation? In fact it is a cheap politics. Besides one must hold Congress accountable for no justice in 26/11 attacks. MMS has also said what Modi is saying now but what happened afterwards?

  5. I don’t what is objectionable here. Modi hasn’t said anything which is playing politics. he says that we will avenge them. Which is true as his party is in power. Should that Congress will avenge..This is creating an issue out of nothing which is the favourite things of many Indians and I’ll blame this mentality creating blocks in developing the India both domestically and on international level. Frankly speaking Modi hasn’t anything now after the attack and already people are making absurd statements fearing that he will get elected again. Petty Indian politics.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here