Operation Ganga and a few votes

PM Modi’s act at UP election rally terming Operation Ganga evacuation efforts a mega success, calls for debate

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is busy in Uttar Pradesh, campaigning in destinations in and out of Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency. And, even while seeking votes, he is into his chest-beating best, holding aloft the Union government’s successful evacuation of Indian citizens who have been calling out for help to return home.

The Russian military action on Ukraine has been raging, and it has also left an Indian student dead for no fault of his. It is a fact that Prime Minister Modi had held four high-level meetings in the last three days to discuss the situation in Ukraine and to review Operation Ganga missions aimed at bringing stranded Indians home. The government, of course, has to do this, and yet it deserves appreciation for the fact that the evacuation mission has started, though late.

PM Modi holds India’s Rising Power status aloft

But then, proclaiming that India’s status as a Rising Power stood by the country as the government brings back citizens from the war-torn European nation, at an election rally to pocket an extra number of votes comes as a move that is stretched. Modi’s campaign speech for the sixth phase of Uttar Pradesh elections in Sonbhadra had India’s Rising Power status shouted out with much impact.

As the occasion warranted a call for votes, it was imperative that the flaws of the Opposition parties also need be amplified. And so, PM Modi hit out the Congress proclaiming that “those who questioned the valour of the armed forces and ‘Make in India’ can’t make the country strong”. That also was meant to convince the electorate that the BJP-led NDA alliance in power at the Centre has been making the country strong, and the latest example is the Operation Ganga mission that is bringing back the Indians stranded in Ukraine.

Not stopping at that, he went on to say the “dynasts question our vaccine, they question our armed forces, and make fun of Make In India”. Attacking the Congress party, he said “they have shamed the country and the people” and that “they can’t make India strong”.

The plight of Indians in Ukraine

It looks like the Ukraine situation has provided much ammunition to PM Narendra Modi to garner votes through his oratory skills. The jibes at the Opposition parties in an election season is normal in the Indian political scenario. But slamming others to proclaim that only the BJP, and the cabinet it leads, can make India strong and uphold the Rising Power status of India sounds like a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it? However, as they say, in an election season, anything goes.

Any Indian with a relative or friend in Ukraine would testify that they had been begging with authorities in India and its embassy in Ukraine to send them home at least a few weeks before the war had actually begun. It needs to be seen that the students had been calling upon embassy officials and authorities in India via many channels to secure their safe return. These requests had started coming from them much early, but nothing happened, except communication from the Embassy asking them to stay safe wherever they are. The Operation Ganga mission started only after the war began, and many had panicked.

And yet, PM Modi is basking in the success of the evacuation mission. If the mission to bring back all Indians in Ukraine had been initiated at least a month ago, India wouldn’t have lost 21-year-old Naveen Shekharappa, the final year medical student, in a war fought in nation where he had gone to study. The government’s “profound sorrow” and “condolences” are just not enough.

It would be timely to remind the Prime Minister to take a look at his own party colleague Varun Gandhi’s tweet that came a couple of days ago.  Gandhi had tweeted: “More than 15,000 students are still stuck in the battlefield amid mismanagement because the government didn’t take the right decisions at the right time. Ensuring their safe return by taking concrete strategic and diplomatic action is not a favour but our responsibility. One shouldn’t look for ‘opportunity’ in every disaster.”

Yes, one shouldn’t look for opportunity in every disaster. The chest-beating exercise can wait!

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »
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