NEW DELHI: With the Congress looking to corner the Modi government over the Rafale issue, the ruling BJP believes it can turn the heat on the opposition party by building up a campaign around nationalism on the twin planks of illegal infiltration and the Centre’s “tough policy” on security matters.
Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the decision to hold nationwide events on September 28-29 to mark the second anniversary of the surgical strikes, following a relatively quiet first anniversary of the Army operation in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), was taken to highlight the government’s tough policy on security matters.
Though it has been accused of politicising the Army action and its critics have also referred to the growing violence in Kashmir under its tenure to question the effectiveness of its policies, the saffron party believes that the surgical strikes continue to have resonance on the ground and can help it build a positive narrative in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
BJP president Amit Shah has also been constantly harping on the issue of illegal infiltration and has gone on to assert that the government will identify such infiltrators across the country if the saffron party retains power after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
A senior BJP functionary said the top leaders of the party believe that the contentious issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam can help them, especially in states where infiltrators are said to be living in large numbers.
He added that it can be a vote-grabber for the BJP in a state like West Bengal as its Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has come out strongly against the saffron party on the issue, apparently to assuage the concerns of the state’s over-28-per cent Muslim population, many of whom allege a communal design behind the campaign against infiltrators.
BJP leaders have claimed that West Bengal is home to millions of infiltrators.
Many party leaders have demanded an NRC-like exercise in the state.
The recent arrests of five activists by the Maharashtra police for their alleged links to Maoists have also become a handy issue for the BJP after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the police action.
Shah has targeted the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi over the issue, accusing the latter of standing with those who are a “threat” to national security.
Facing flak from the Congress-led opposition over alleged corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal, the BJP has sought to blunt the campaign against it by describing it as politically motivated and targeting Gandhi’s brother-in-law, Robert Vadra.