New Delhi: After the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers in a violent face-off with China at Galwan Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said the sacrifice of the jawans will not go in vain and that India is capable of giving a fitting reply if provoked.
The PM’s speech seems to have set the tone for BJP’s message on the border clash, with the ruling party ‘caught between rising domestic nationalist sentiments and the global order’.
“The country will be proud to know that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese… I would like to assure the nation that the sacrifice of our jawans will not be in vain. For us, the unity and sovereignty of the country is most important,” said Modi.
Echoing Modi, BJP senior leaders have also said India will retaliate against the Chinese as India is ‘not Nehru’s India of 1962’ and that “Modi is not Nehru”.
A day before the PM’s message, BJP national president J.P. Nadda echoed similar sentiments while referring to the Galwan face-off.
“India is becoming stronger now. The borders of India will remain intact and are intact under the leadership of Narendra Modi…. I can assure you that under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, India’s territorial integrity will not be compromised. We now have the political will and our Army is fully equipped to take any adverse action,” he said, while addressing BJP leaders and workers in Kerala through a virtual rally.
BJP’s national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santosh in a series of tweets Tuesday said the casualties on the Chinese side is “still more huge” and that the “resolute” of the India forces forced Chinese troops to retreat.
The Indian forces have engaged in a unprecedented face off with Chinese troops in Galway valley & Pangong Tso in Leh region . Indian efforts at building infrastructure in a never before scale increased Chinese worries .
— B L Santhosh (@blsanthosh) June 16, 2020
‘Modi is not Nehru’
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha has tweeted that the entire nation is standing with PM Modi like the Mount Everest as “he is not Nehru, but Modi”. He added: “India will write the story of the end of China.”
Party vice-president Prabhat Jha echoed Sinha and told ThePrint PM Modi is “pragmatic” and he won’t “compromise” even one inch of land.
“Modi is not Nehru who lost the battle (against China in 1962) while reciting ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai… Without wasting the sacrifice of soldiers, he will ensure sovereignty,” he said.
On Twitter, Jha wrote Tuesday: “This is not Nehru’s 1962 India, but Modi’s 2020 India where each and every child is Narendra Modi.”
BJP general secretary Anil Jain, meanwhile, took exception to the Congress seeking answers from PM Modi over the killing of the Indian soldiers.
“… we stood up in solidarity behind Nehru and Indira (Gandhi) in 1962 and 1971. Is this time to ask such questions ‘Where is the prime minister?’ ‘Why he is not responding’. Is this a joke? Soldiers have died at the borders, their bodies are lying. (But) Congress has forgotten its history. We don’t want to remember 1962 and their other mishandling. Today is the time to stand with the government and the Army,” he said.
A party general secretary, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint no one can doubt the PM’s integrity and decisiveness in handling critical issues, but action against China couldn’t be taken hastily.
“The country has seen the resolve of PM Modi during the (2016) surgical strike. So nobody can doubt the PM’s integrity and decisiveness in handling critical issues. But it is also true that we can’t be in haste in taking action against China,” he said.
“Any response will be calibrated and will be taken by the government after national consensus. This message has to be communicated… that is why the national president (Nadda) told people (in Kerala) in the virtual rally that territorial integrity under Modi leadership will not be compromised,” he added.
Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari echoed his party leaders’ sentiments, saying: “We believe in Modi ji’s leadership. He will exercise diplomatic and military options if necessary.”
But he also asked if the opposition will stand with India or for the heck of opposing Modi, “they will betray the country”.
BJP’s three-pronged approach
BJP leaders have also called for a tit-for-tat response, with party MP from Deoria Ramapati Ram Tripathi, tweeting: “Mistakes will be rectified and debt of the martyrs will be paid.”
Even the opposition leaders like Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Choudhary have called for tough response so that “the tragic deaths of our brave and courageous soldiers cannot and should not go in vain”.
A second general secretary told ThePrint the BJP will handle the border issue domestically in three ways.
“First is to assure people that Modi will not compromise India’s interest unlike what happened in the past. Second, for wider national consensus, the government will use all political instruments for engaging with the leaders of opposition through meetings since this stand-off may prolong. So engagement is necessary to diffuse criticism, and to take political and diplomatic actions in the coming days,” he added.
“Third is, diplomatic engagement against China for international consensus, which the government is actively doing,” he said.
The senior leader also said “we are caught between domestic nationalism and global order” and the government has to find a balance between the two.