The Balakot air strike against a militant training camp in Pakistan and the blitzkrieg that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah launched in its aftermath has drastically changed the narrative in the past few days in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh ahead of the general elections due in April-May.
And so, as the BJP leaves no stone unturned to capitalise on the developments, some times even going overboard, the leadership of the main opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) was “indeed rattled at the developments and had been stunned by the decisive political go ahead” in ordering the air strikes an insider told IANS.
“The party very well understood that the air strikes are being seen as a positive by the public at large so we huddled to change our offensive on the Prime Minister” a close aide of party chief Akhilesh Yadav averred.
Quite calculatedly, the party is neither questioning the air strikes nor doubting the claims of the government that it did inflict a body blow to the JeM terror network. It has, however, begun to question the both Modi and the BJP going ahead with its own functions and engagements.
Harish Chandra Srivastava, a spokesman for the state unit of the BJP, says this was the proverbial “khisiyani billi khambha noche (when you are embarrassed you run for cover) as the opposition is jittery at the growing popularity of the Prime Minister.
Mayawati, whose BSP is in a poll alliance with the SP and who never missed an opportunity to castigate the Prime Minister, has lauded the IAF action but with a rider: It should have been done earlier.
A former minister in the BSP government between 2007-2012, on condition of anonymity said that ‘behen ji’ has been struggling ever since with the changed narrative and was at a party meeting seeking feedback on the air strikes from the ground workers and is reworking her strategy for the Lok Sabha polls.
Realising that even the slightest of mistake or an insinuation on the air strikes or military action ordered by Modi could put to rest their chances, both the BSP and the SP have hence decided to decry the Prime Minister on many issues but to “try and avoid detailed questioning on the offensive against terror groups”.
Straw polls are a clear indication of this.
Punters had been giving upwards of 40 of the state’s 80 seats to the SP-BSP and just about 30 to the BJP. Post the air strikes, the BJP has climbed to 40 seats but this is nowhere near the 71 seats it held in the outgoing Lok Sabha.
The Congress, which went into celebratory mode with the political debut of Priyanka Gandhi as the General Secretary for Eastern UP, has also reworked its strategy. While Rahul Gandhi is attacking Modi for trying to usurp the credit of the brave defence forces, his sister is staying quiet, working backroom and assimilating people from other parties into the Grand Old Party.
“She will not launch a direct attack on the PM on this issue for now. Apparently, she realises, the emotiveness of the issue and is watchful of what the maut-ka-saudagar jibe (of her mother Sonia Gandhi against Modi) did in Gujarat,” a close aide of Priyanka said.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])