Will Narendra Modi prove as strong as Advani?
Notwithstanding tall promises by Narendra Modi that the BJP would provide strong and powerful government, which will deal with enemies head-on, the record of the six-year rule of the National Democratic Alliance (1998-2004) does not inspire much.
When Atal Bihari Vajpayee became PM after brief and instable tenures of Deve Gowda and I K Gujral the country became assured about its security as his deputy Lal Krishna Advani was projected as the iron man (Lauh purush).
But in six years the NDA let down India on this very count. As Vajpayee embarked on inaugural bus journey to Lahore in Feb 1999 militants, openly backed by Pakistani army, infiltrated deep into the lofty mountain of Kargil. The nation was taken aback as never since 1962 China war such a lapse occurred. True they were pushed back, but we had to sacrifice hundreds of soldiers.
Then in the last week of December 1999 Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu was hijacked. The strangest part of the story is that the aircraft first landed at Amritsar airport, where the pilot requested refuelling. The plane was allowed to fly out and it finally lnded in Kandhar via Lahore and Dubai. After 110 hours long negotiation with the hijackers all the three jailed terrorists were released. In spite of the presence of no-nonsense Advani in the home ministry the authorities accepted the main demands of the hijackers.
The jailed miitants were not simply released but were escorted to Kandhar in a special plane by the then foreign minister, Jaswant Singh, himself a former army officer.
Then the Indian Parliament was attacked by terrorists on Dec 13, 2001. Security of no Parliament in the world has been breached in such a manner.
Incidentally, it was preceded by the terrorists’ attack on the Kashmir Assembly on October 1, 2001 killing at least 38.
Then on Dec 22, 2000 terrorists from across the border targeted the army inside Red Fort. Two soldiers and a civilian were killed.
Modi may blame Congress for its weak-kneed approach in dealing with neighbours and terrorists but never anywhere in the world a top minister had travelled to handover released terrorists. No Parliament and state Assembly has ever been targeted in such a quick succession––and that too just after 9/11, when the security should have been beefed up.
As if that was not enough India agreed to talk with ‘Mian’ Musharraf, the ‘architect of Kargil’ and all the subsequent terrorists’ attacks. He was accorded red-carpet welcome in Agra in July 2001. The Pakistani High Commissioner in India even hosted a tea-party in which leaders of All Party Hurriyat Conference, including the hardliner, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, met Musharraf––obviously on Indian soil.
After the Gujarat riots of 2002 the administration in the state could not prevent attack on Akshardham Temple from happening on September 25, 2002.
In six short years India suffered several humiliation on the security front. Our soldiers never crossed the LoC to attack the terrorists’ camps inside POK even though we got an opportunity to do so during the Kargil operation. Yet for public consumption the hardliners in BJP always call for destroying them.
True the Manmohan Singh government failed in preventing 26/11 from happening but it was the same government, which within four years got Ajmal Amir Kasab hanged. Even one of the accused of Parliament attack case, Afzal Guru, was executed not by the ‘strong’ Vajpayee government but by the ‘weak’ present establishment.
Notwithstanding Modi’s strong words against enemies, Advani’s fixation for Pakistan continued. As leader of opposition he paid a visit when Musharraf was still in power. He got emotionally carried away in his birthplace, Karachi, and ended up praising Jinnah.
In contrast Manmohan Singh as prime minister never visited his birthplace across the border in Pakistani Punjab.
If tough-talking Advani failed, should one believe Modi that he would undo 60 years of timidity of the Congress in next 60 months as PM?