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The deadly Pathankot attack has brought the performance of the BJP-led central government under intense scrutiny.
Social media, particularly twitter users have wasted no time in attacking the ‘utter apathy’ shown by the Narendra Modi government.
Soldiers martyred, defence minister in Goa
Manohar Parrikar was in Goa when the attack took place. He had to rush back to Delhi following criticism from his political rivals.
The Nationalist Congress Party attacked him asking him to stop playing the role of a proxy chief minister of the state (Parrikar was Goa’s CM before being elevated to the post of India’s defence minister) and focus on securing India’s security.
Congress said that his presence in Goa on ‘crunch times’ like Pathankot would severely ‘impact the morale of defence forces.’
Congress secretary Durgadas Kamat said, “Parrikar should have called the meeting of service chiefs immediately after the attack, but due to his presence in Goa, the meeting was delayed by almost 7-8 hours after the attack.”
Clueless Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley
At 6.55 pm on Saturday, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted implying the operation at Pathankot Air Force base was over. He thanked the soldiers for their valour.
He said, “The nation is proud of its brave security forces who have always rose to the occasion. I salute our forces on successful operation in P’kot. (sic)”
Since then, an embarrassed home minister has deleted the controversial tweet.
His cabinet colleague and effectively the number two in the Modi government, the finance minister Arun Jaitley too took to Facebook to make similar assertions.
His Facebook post posted 4.21 pm on Saturday said, “Terror attack on air force base in Pathankot is highly condemnable. Kudos to brave soldiers for DISPELING the attack and salute to martyrs.”
Unlike his colleague Singh, Jaitley has chosen not to remove his Facebook post.
But was the operation really over? Nearly 20 hours after the public chest-thumping by the two senior most ministers in the central government, a senior Air Force officer, Air Marshall Anil Kohli, publicly contradicted both when he said the operation against the terrorists had never stopped.
This prompted social media users to mock and attack the government and its utter incompetency in dealing with the crisis. Many questioned if they were even bothered to ‘pick up a phone’ and called the security agencies on the ground to bring themselves up to speed with the goings on in Pathankot.
Perhaps the breakdown in communication and coordination led twitter users to trend #SackAjitDoval. Doval is the National Security Advisor to PM Modi.
Modi’s gyan on Yoga
While Modi’s ministers were behaving like headless chickens, the prime minister himself was oblivious to what was happening in Pathankot. In Mysore in Karnataka, Modi was busy doing what he’s best at- giving gyan and using English alphabets to make his point.
This time, he was telling a group of scientists the significance of five Es – Economy, Environment, Energy, Empathy and Equity. India desperately wanted him to display at least two Es of his ‘new doctrine’-Energy (to deal with Pathankot crisis) and Empathy (towards India’s bravehearts fighting the terrorists).
While the country was busy mourning the deaths of its soldiers without knowing how many more could have died in the gun-battle with terrorists inside the airbase, Prime Minister’s official twitter handle posted this at 4.20 pm on Sunday afternoon, “Yoga is now a global heritage. And, the world is embracing traditional Indian medicine with great enthusiasm: PM”
Yoga is now a global heritage. And, the world is embracing traditional Indian medicine with great enthusiasm: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 3, 2016
Such callousness and flippancy amidst a national threat would be unthinkable by any head of state across the globe, more so for Modi, who rose to power adopting a hawkish approach towards terrorism and on the issue of nationalism.
But then the constant flip-flop on serious policy matters, making light of election promises and showing disdain to serious governance have been the real hallmarks of this government.
Even as I write this commentary, our soldiers are still battling it out in Pathankot without knowing what lay ahead of them. It’s a universal fact that an Indian soldier never hesitates in sacrificing his life for protecting the sovereignty of his country.
If Modi’s ministers were to meet the families of those martyred in Pathankot and asked “hamesha fauji ki family hi kyon roti hai?” I wonder how our clueless ministers would respond!
Rifat Jawaid is the editor-in-chief of jantakareporter.com