By Dushyant Shekhawat Feb. 15, 2019
Until the attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama, all parties were waging hard-fought election campaigns. The tragedy has changed their tune, as it ought to.
After the terror attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama district that left 42 CRPF jawans dead, India’s political landscape was unrecognisably changed. Across the spectrum, from the BJP and Congress to regional parties, political leaders have been unanimous in their condemnation of the attack, agreeing with each other wholeheartedly for the first time in months. It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy on the scale of the worst terror attack of the century in Kashmir to unite India’s political class, but the development is a positive one, despite the dire circumstances that led to it.
This is an election year, and until the events of yesterday, all parties were observing it by waging hard-fought campaigns for electoral gains. The Opposition parties were sniffing for any weaknesses to exploit, as Rahul Gandhi continued hounding the government over the controversial Rafale deal, and Mamata Banerjee was organising sit-ins in Kolkata and New Delhi to cobble together an alliance to take on the BJP in the polls. But the attack in Pulwama has changed their tune, as it ought to.
Speaking at a press conference alongside former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi said that this was a time of “mourning, sadness, and respect”. But he also threw his support behind the Centre, saying, “We are fully supporting the government of India and our security forces. We are not going to get into any other conversation apart from this.” This statement came on the heels of Priyanka Gandhi, who is currently on her maiden election in Uttar Pradesh, cancelling a press conference and saying that “it is inappropriate for us to be having political discussions”.
For once, our politicians are taking a break from sharpening their knives for each other, and focussing on seeking justice for the jawans who lost their lives.
The Centre has also had a similar response to the attack. PM Modi was supposed to address the public in Madhya Pradesh, but instead, will be holding an emergency meeting with high-ranking Cabinet ministers and the heads of the defence forces. Meanwhile, BJP President Amit Shah put out an appeal for the political class on Twitter, saying, “Let us rise above politics and show that we are together when it comes to matters of national security. Nothing matters more than India!”
Even though the build-up to this year’s election has been marked by a heated political atmosphere, where both sides have crossed the lines of civility multiple times, the Pulwama terror attack is such a serious matter that no party can be seen trying to leverage it for political gains, at least for now. And let’s hope it continues that way. Now is not the time we want our leaders to say, “Bade bade shehron mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai,” like they have done in the past. When the threat is external, especially when it’s from foes as vilified as terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed, internal political differences must be cast aside to present a strong, united front.
So, for once, our politicians are taking a break from sharpening their knives for each other, and focussing on seeking justice for the jawans who lost their lives in the senseless violence. It marks the rare, rare occasion that the politicians appear to have the nation’s interests before their own. It’s just a shame that we can’t appreciate the more mature political atmosphere better, because of the death and destruction it took to get us here.