New Delhi :The post Pulwama narrative with its emphasis on nationalism will by and large sustain till the April-May general elections, a cross-section of people across the country said on Saturday but there were some notable voices of dissent that lamented that burning economic issues will be relegated to the backburner.
“Nationalism as a narrative does and will work. You have to see the issue of this kind with the eyes of nationalism,” political strategist Jhon Arokiasamy said in Chennai, adding: “If BJP is playing on the narrative on nationalistic pride and feelings in terms of safety, security, well being of people, it will have longevity till the elections.”
Rakesh Gupta, president of the influential Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) said: “The narrative set up in the country post Pulwama has proved that when it comes to the integrity and sovereignty of India, all of us are one.”
“But, as we get close to the Lok Sabha elections and if the BJP really decides to bank on this one narrative to return to power in the country, I am afraid, more questions will be asked. To sustain the narrative throughout the poll campaign and the actual voting process, the voters of the country would ask for more concrete proof of how hard have we hit the enemy. The BJP will have to move beyond the rhetoric in terms of convincing the voter that the terror machine has been really hit hard and thrown out of function,” Gupta added.
Theatre personality and actor Savita Bhatti (the widow of well-known comedy-actor Jaspal Bhatti) said in Chandigarh: “The Pulwama incident and subsequent action will definitely remain centre stage inn these elections. National security is core to everything. It affects each one of us. It is a unifying factor for us.”
According to Mazher Hussain, Executive Director, Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) in Hyderabad, elections still more than a month away, “it will depend on what all things play out. It also depends on strategy the opposition adopts because basically there are many important issues like unemployment, agrarian distress, insecurity among minorities, Dalits and others. The question is whether Pulwama and aftermath will override all these things”.
“It is a fact that the Pulwama terror attack and the airstrike on Pakistan land have generated a national feeling of patriotism. I think it will sustain till general elections as the BJP will try to cash in on the incident,” Brahmananda Satapathy, a Political Science Professor at Bhubaneswar’s Utkal University.
Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) general secretary Randhir Vikram Singh said in Jaipur: “Everybody wants to stand together and support the country at this point of time. Nobody wants anyone to take political advantage. The countrymen are together and don’t want to listen to any doubts on their forces as the great soldiers are selflessly bordering the nation. Nothing else is important at this time except the fact that nation should stand together and this is what is really happening.”
Hamid (Narendra) Dabholkar, a well-known social worker/activist and son of slain rationalist, the late Dr. Narendra Dabholkar said the present scenario couldn’t be linked to a single incident like Pulwama.
Elections come and go. The bigger worry is the manner in which both – the party in government and the opposition – are today working, I feel democracy could be in serious peril. People must be made aware of the danger of such polarisation politics,” Dabholkar said, adding: “Sadly, in all this, nobody is talking about the burning issues like farmers problems, unemployment, health, inflation, etc.”
Professor Gull Muhammad Wani, who teaches political science at Kashmir University, spoke in similar vein.
“It is fairly reasonable to expect that the Indian voter is driven by patriotism and he/she has felt proud of what they has been hearing about the country’s resolve to take terrorism head-on post the Pulwama attack. But to expect that after 70 years of their experience with politicians of various political parties, the voters would forget their plight and vote solely under the hangover of air strikes is expecting too much,” Wani contended.
Venture capitalist & former Infosys Director V. Balakrishnan said he was “not holding much in view of the conflicting versions on the success of the air strike and lack of official evidence yet”, adding: “It would be difficult to sustain the narrative till the general elections, which is still over a month and two away.”
“What is crucial for the people is economic issues-lack of jobs, rural distress, fallout of demonetisation and messy implementation of the GST,” he added.
P.P.S. Gill, a former Punjab Information Commissioner said as a mature nation, “we should not over react and become hyper on such issues. The way people from both sides (BJP and opposition) are going overboard is questionable and shameless. The leadership should show restrain and sagacity and not say anything that goes against national security.”
Ace comedian and character actor Jagdish said in Thiruvananthapuram that even while Kerala and Keralites hold the defence personnel and the acts of the forces in high esteem , it’s a bit doubtful if it would have any impact on the upcoming election campaign.
“While many TV channels outside Kerala discussed and debated the Pulwama attack for several days, Kerala TV channels never did such an exercise, ” said Jagdish, who contested the April 2016 assembly elections on a Congress ticket but lost.(IANS)