Patriotic sentiments won't help, Swaraj must understand

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New Delhi, Jan 16: Did the BJP's Lok Sabha leader, Sushma Swaraj, go overboard by asking to bring back 10 heads from Pakistan (which she clarified as Ravana's 10 heads) if the latter did not return the severed head of one of India's slain jawans? Her remarks have clearly landed the party in trouble, particularly when it is trying to reform its image as one which believes in aggressive patriotism.

Swaraj made the comment on Tuesday when she went to meet the family of Hemraj Singh, the soldier who was among the two killed by Pakistani troops last week. Sources in the party said the leader should have shown restraint while choosing her words.

The BJP leader, perhaps, could not ignore the opportunity to bash Pakistan from a nationalist point of view, something the party often cherished in the past but it actually dented the party's desperate attempt in the recent years to revise its image.

Singh sent National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon to the BJP leadership after Swaraj's remark and following the meeting, Singh announced that things wouldn't be the same with Pakistan. Swaraj later said that it was their strong protest that had made the Centre take a tough stand vis-a-vis Pakistan but according to a section of leaders in the BJP, Swaraj's aggressive gesture at the slain jawan's house actually gave an opportunity to the Congress to attack the BJP's hyper-patriotic hue and diluted its claim of achieving a moral victory.

Central minister Manish Tewari, understandably, rebuked Swaraj for her remark. He said the Indian Army knew how to respond and there was no point in raising a patriotic sentiment. The Congress, itself, was also eyeing a patriotic stand so that it did not annoy the public mood. It is set to raise the issue at its Chintan Baithak due to be held in Jaipur in sometime and also did not oppose the Shiv Sena's protest against allowing Pakistani hockey players in India. It was necessary for the BJP to act differently under these circumstances.

The BJP, if it want to successfully project Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister, needs to get rid of the jingoist appeals for they are not going to work in today's India. May be a few news channels can buy such '10 heads-for-one demand' at the most. Even Modi, the high-profile Gujarat chief minister, has been trying to overhaul the '2002 image' with that of a pro-development one. Swaraj's comment could ruin all of Modi's hard work as well.

The BJP had seen during its stay in power between 1999-2004 that foreign policy is a different ball-game altogether and what looks simple from the opposition bench is often an uphill task for the decision-makers to accomplish. Could the BJP retaliate when an Indian aeroplane was hijacked in 1999 or when the Indian parliament was attacked in 2001? Even its government was fooled by the Pakistanis when it tried to make the bus diplomacy a success in 1999. Islamabad returned the favour through the Kargil conflict in no time.

Hence, those BJP leaders who still believe that the old mantras will work, should be reminded about the reality. The likes of Swaraj are not helping the party's cause, at least at this moment.

OneIndia News

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