Polling is over in Gujarat. It was the second and last phase of the crucial assembly elections. It’s now time for the stakeholders to await fate.
But while campaigning, leaders from both BJP and Congress indulged in a typical tactic. Instead of focusing on why people should vote for them, they used extreme justification on why their counterparts should not be voted into power. Sunday, especially, was a day of vitriolic campaigning and one of the most careless speeches came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The statement was triggered after his predecessor, Dr. Manmohan Singh, met Pakistani officials at a “secret” meeting at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence. Pakistan’s High Commissioner, Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister, India’s former Vice-President and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were present.
The ‘Pak hand’ comment was also inspired by an appeal by former director general (DG) of the Pakistan Army, Sardar Arshad Rafiq, who wished for senior Congress leader, Ahmed Patel, to become the chief minister of Gujarat.
So what if Pakistani officials met Congress leaders. So what if a former DG has a certain wish. Why would a Pakistani want a hardcore anti-Pak party like the BJP, which surgically struck on its soil, come back to power?
Does he know for sure that they were discussing the defiling of India’s elections within closed doors of Mani’s home? Did Modi have a fly on the wall to eavesdrop? Mani Shankar Aiyar has strong connections with Pakistan. He has many Pakistani political friends who come visit him. He goes to visit them, too. Couldn’t it simply have been just that? And most importantly, if you are discussing the possibilities of influencing elections, Manmohan Singh is hardly the person to be a party to it. He doesn’t have the bandwidth for deceit.
German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said, “Be careful of who you choose as your enemy because that’s who you become most like.” By making that statement, Modi manifested a Congress-like behaviour, of leveling unverified charges. A certain level of political ethics is attached to his image as a strong, mature leader. His statement would have affected his credibility greatly.
His speech has a dangerous meaning, too. The real implication is that India’s national security could be compromised. Elections are any nation’s most sheltered and privileged phenomenon. If some external force is able to influence it, then it’s the most devastating breach a country can suffer. But nothing like that happened in the just-concluded polls. At least, nothing that we know of as yet.
Many would call it fear-mongering. His statement posed question mark on the world’s largest functioning democracy to have fair elections, that Pakistan could hijack it.
Modi’s statement was condemned by several political leaders, and rightly so. He should be restrained, however desperate the situation. Any Prime Minister should be above falsehoods and canards. You don’t score political brownies by raising unfounded apprehensions, you simply become exposed.
There is no doubt that the BJP is quite worried. There is a growing perception that the Congress might just be able to unseat the incumbent Government. Just the thought has been enough to rattle even the most confident of Prime Ministers, Modi.
In hindsight, there is a good chance that our PM would realise there was no need to drag Pakistan into India’s electoral debate.
As per a recent report published by Pew Research Centre on global political attitudes survey, 85% of Indians showcased immense trust and confidence in their democratic government. With this single negative statement, a lot may have been affected.