10 Important Questions We Need to Ask Narendra Modi About Pulwama and Balakot
If the PM had done justice to the high office he holds, why peddle “source-based” leaks and cock-and-bull fact-checks?
The right to question power is the bedrock of democracy. No one in a democracy is above being questioned and the questions, even if deferred due to some current exigencies, can and should be asked later. The obligation to provide answers by a ruling dispensation is just as essential as asking relevant questions is for a thriving democracy. Asking questions is not, and never was, anti-national. This narrative currently being peddled needs to be killed immediately.
Having said that, some important questions that had been deferred post the dastardly Pulwama terror attack, need to be asked now.
On February 14, 2019, when the Pulwama terror attack took place, Prime MinisterNarendra Modi was at Corbett National Park, a scheduled visit, where he was supposed to shoot for a Discovery Channel documentary and some other engagements. Tragedy struck in the form of a lone indoctrinated Kashmiri, who rammed his RDX-laden car, in a bus carrying CRPF jawans at Pulwama, at approximately 3.10 pm, killing more than 40 of them. The confusion started after that.
Presumably, the Prime Minister of India and his entourage are equipped with state-of-the-art secure communication facilities. Presumably, there are a set of procedures in place on actions to be taken, on occasions when tragedy above a certain threshold strikes the nation. Presumably, a terrorist attack of this magnitude warranted the Prime Minister be informed immediately. And yet the Prime Minister of India was in Corbett National Park till well past sunset. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) well-oiled spinning machinery swung into action, and explanations offered were:
A) The Prime Minister was informed immediately and he kept himself abreast of the developing situation from Corbett National Park itself, and inclement weather conditions prevented him from leaving the park immediately.
B) There was some delay in informing the Prime Minister, as connectivity was a problem due to inclement weather conditions.
C) By evening, sources told select journalists, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval didn’t inform the Prime Minister immediately, and the Narendra Modi was very disturbed over the delay in notifying him of the Pulwama terror attack.
D) By next morning, the story saw a slight change, and sources again informed the select set of journalists that the Prime Minister was briefed immediately, while he was on his way to Rudrapur to address a rally, and that he was constantly monitoring the situation.
E) A BJP national spokesperson, went on record to say that the Prime Minister was so distraught on learning about the Pulwama terror attack that he didn’t eat a morsel and left Corbett National park — in dripping wet clothes — immediately by road since travelling by air wasn’t possible that day.
And yet, the Prime Minister exited Corbett National Park well past sunset. Sunset on that particular day was at 6.10 pm as per the Prime Ministers own itinerary. A fact-check done by Altnews places the Prime Minister’s convoy exiting Corbett National Park via the Dhangari gate at approximately 6.15 pm.
A) Why peddle falsehood that the Prime Minister was on his way to Rudrapur when he was informed about the Pulwama terror attack when there is no evidence at all of him exiting Corbett National Park?
B) News of the Pulwama Terror attack was already in public domain when the Prime Minister was addressing the rally at Rudrapur via mobile phone; there is ample evidence in the public domain with timestamps. Was it vital to address a public rally when a disaster of this magnitude has struck the nation?
C) Why was the Prime Minister even at Corbett National Park till 7.40 pm or 6.15 pm (depending on what source one chooses to believe) when he was aware of the circumstances by 3.30 pm or 4 pm? What was more important than national security?
D) If the Prime Minister had done justice to the high office he holds, why peddle “source-based” leaks and cock-and-bull fact-checks, like the one published (and withdrawn later) by the Times of India?
E) How important is politics during a period of national grief that it cannot be put away for a few days, that the Prime Minister was out campaigning the very next day, under the garb of launching development projects?
In audacious retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack, the Indian Air Force struck deep into Pakistani territory at Balakot and allegedly bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp. With this preemptive strike, India decisively moved the red-line threshold, and the IAF came away with flying colours.
In the face of external aggression or national tragedies, India has always stood up as one. The Opposition too has always supported the government of the day, and ruling dispensations have always taken the Opposition into confidence. Indira Gandhi briefed the Opposition before launching the Bangladesh operations and before accepting the ceasefire agreement. Similarly, Atal Bihari Vajpayee kept the Opposition into the loop during the Kargil operations and “official” press briefings were held every day. Credit should be rightfully given where it is due; hence while the Indian Air Force deserves accolades for pulling off a delicate operation, the government needs to credited for providing the political go-ahead.
A semblance of unity had been forged between the government and the Opposition post-Pulwama, and the Opposition was quick to congratulate the Air Force after the Balakot air strikes. Leaders of various opposition parties were briefed by the government, only that the prime minister was “absent”, just as he was absent from the post-Pulwama all-party meeting. The government-Opposition unity cracked when source-based and highly-placed source-based news leaks started having a field day. And even before the government had officially accepted carrying out the air strikes at Balakot, even before the news was officially broken, we saw “sources” putting a figure on the number of casualties at Balakot. Unsurprisingly, sections of the media lapped up these claims. Slowly these unsubstantiated figures, that had appeared out of thin air made their way into election rallies.
A) Why does the Prime Minister avoid facing the Opposition, given that he was personally absent from both all-party meetings called by the government? How difficult is facing a few questions from the Opposition?
B) Irrespective of the extent of damage they may have caused at Balakot, the Indian Air Force did a great job of sending a message to Pakistan. What was the need to sully that sheen by pushing unsubstantiated casualty figures through sources?
C) Where does serious governance end, and brand-building begin, given that the Prime Minister was launching the Khelo India app within hours of Wing Commander Abhinandan being shot down in Pakistan and setting records for the “world’s largest video conference” event in a “Mera Booth Sabse Majboot” event the next day?
D) How right is it to have army backdrops in political rallies?
E) Why can’t the Narendra Modi government speak to this nation directly? Why does information have to flow through “sources” under this dispensation?
Political parties have a short shelf-life. In the larger scheme of things, governments will come and go, but the nation remains. It is essential that our politicians of the day remember this.