By Priyanka Chaturvedi
Every dark cloud has a silver lining. That aphorism holds true for the six years of BJP-led NDA government at centre. Even as the party was thrown out by the people in 2004, its stint does serve some purpose now. Its record on various issues during that period helps to nail the lies and myths being perpetuated by BJP leaders and their vocal online supporters. In the Economic Times, Abheek Burman ripped apart Yashwant Sinha’s claims about FDI coming into India during the NDA regime and the UPA regime. In the NDA’s six years in power, a total of $23.8 billion entered India as FDI. And 2012, described by the BJP-led propagandists as the year when world stopped trusting India, has alone seen $26 billion of FDI enter India.
If Yashwant Sinha peddles his myths only about the economy, BJP’s recently declared Prime Ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi isn’t restricted in making claims in any field even by his rather fertile imagination. He can publicly claim that China spends 20% of its GDP on education and diss India for not following suit. That China barely spends 3.93% of GDP on education while India, under the UPA, now spends 4.04% doesn’t elicit an apology from him. Perhaps Mr Modi remembered the era of the BJP-led NDA when it was spending only 1.6% of GDP on education. Not only that, the state which he has ruled for the last 12 years has performed miserably on all indicators of primary education, be it enrolment or learning outcomes. Similarly, his claims about Gujarat being the favoured investment destination in India have been ripped into smithereens. As per Assocham, Gujarat actually has the lowest investment implementation rate in the country.
But such fact-checks have not deterred Mr Modi and his followers. Like most sensible Indians, I couldn’t care less about his preposterous claims now. But some issues are beyond individuals and parties. National security is one such issue. When it comes to India’s brave men and women in uniform, his lies need to be nailed. As expected, and I had spoken about the same in my blogpost in June, Mr Modi went on myth-making about BJP’s love for fauj in his speech last Sunday. Mr Modi perhaps has a short memory—after all, he doesn’t remember much about 2002 Gujarat riots—but there are others who can remind him of the harsh truth about BJP’s false love for fauj and faujis.
BJP loves the fauj so much that it’s then national president and a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, Bangaru Laxman was caught on camera accepting cash for a fake defence deal. Of course, by trying to push for inferior military equipment for a bribe, BJP’s national president was demonstrating how much the party valued the lives of faujis who would have used that equipment. Thank God, it was only a sting operation and our brave soldiers didn’t have to pay with their blood for BJP’s greed for money.
Unfortunately, the BJP-led government didn’t stop even when it came to disrespecting our dead soldiers. Who can forget the coffin scam (about 500 caskets were bought for 2,500 dollars each, which CAG believed to be thirteen times higher than the actual price) during that government, which Mr Modi so loudly boasted about yesterday?
Nothing demonstrates the abject ineptitude of BJP’s handling of national security during its tenure than the helpless statement of the then army chief, General VP Malik. Such was the neglect of Indian army under the BJP rule that the General was forced to say that “we shall fight with whatever we have”. In his book, ‘Kargil: From Surprise to Victory’, General Malik writes that: “When the Kargil war began, it was not the vintage but the deficiencies of weapons, equipment, ammunition and spares that worried us more. Even infantry weapons such as medium machine-guns, rocket launchers and mortars, apart from signal equipment, bullet-proof jackets and snow clothing for high-altitude warfare, were in short supply. Besides weapons and equipment, the ammunition reserves for many important weapons were low.”
It then came down to Israel to help us out at that critical time. As Mark Sofer, Israel’s ambassador to India admitted in 2008 to Outlook magazine, “during Kargil, when Israel came to India’s assistance when India was in great need and brought about the turnaround in the situation on the ground”.
The BJP only exploited the unparalleled bravery of our soldiers at Kargil for its electoral gains. It created resentment among the faujis by offering different rates of compensation for Kargil martyrs. It made the faujis bitter that the families of soldiers killed or disabled in other areas of action- –such as while fighting terrorists in the Kashmir Valley— got far lower benefits compared to the soldiers at Kargil. The situation was eventually corrected. But can the faujis trust the party which initiated such duplicitous measures to divide our brave soldiers for political gains?
Having used them for electoral gains, the BJP then quickly forgot the families of Kargil martyrs. Mr Modi would surely remember the Independence Day of 2001, when Professor SK Nayyar, father of a Kargil martyr and Mahavir Chakra winner Capt Anuj Nayyar, had to shout at Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, “I gave my son to the country in its war against Pakistan but now I am fighting a war against your bureaucracy.”
Surrounded by a number of retired generals yesterday, Mr Modi portrayed as if his party has always had full respect and faith in senior military officers. Does he remember one Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat? Admiral Bhagwat was the Navy chief who was unceremoniously sacked by the BJP-led government. Without going into the unsavoury details of the case, having the record of the only sacking of a service chief in India’s history under your party’s watch is not something to be proud of.
Of course, Mr Modi totally ignoring the actual facts, which is typical of him , also compared the ‘strong BJP-led government’ with the ‘weak UPA government’ when it comes to national security. He probably suffers from amnesia because he forgets that a top BJP minister escorted six dreaded terrorists to Kandahar during the ‘strong’ NDA regime, while this ‘weak’ UPA government has already got some of India’s most wanted terrorists back to this country. When it comes to fighting terror, actions, both of the BJP and the Congress when in government, speak louder than any words uttered by Mr Modi.
BJP leader, Venkaiah Naidu says that Modi is 3D. I completely agree. Mr Modi is Divisive, Delusional and Desperate. And he is entitled to his 3D politics. But he is not entitled to his facts, especially when it comes to India’s national security.