While his party chief and ministerial colleagues have made the September 29 surgical strikes the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s chief electoral plank for the upcoming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Modi is yet to tweet or make any public statement on the issue.
On Sunday, he indicated that he might speak on the issue in his Vijayadashami address in Lucknow, and that it was a “very special” Vijayadashami. Modi stressed the need for a country to be “capable and strong”, but said this strength shouldn’t scare neighbours. Drawing an analogy from daily life, the PM said: “The neighbour need not get scared if I exercise every morning. The exercise is to keep myself healthy.”
Launching The Complete Works of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP, Modi said: “We will be celebrating Vijayadashami in the next few days. This Vijayadashami is very special.” The subsequent applause from his ministerial colleagues, party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders lasted nearly half a minute.
In his half an hour long speech, this was the only tangential, but an obvious reference to the Indian Army’s surgical strikes against terrorists to avenge the death of 19 Indian soldiers in Uri on September 18.
In a departure from tradition, where incumbent prime ministers attend the Vijayadashami celebrations at New Delhi’s Subhash Park, Modi will attend the Ramlila celebrations in Lucknow, the capital of poll-bound UP.
He said the days of the Cold War, where the world was divided in two camps, were over. Today, the world is interdependent where two countries might have differences over 10 issues but agreement on four. “It is the demand of our times to make India strong,” he said.
RSS number two, Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi, lauded the achievements that Modi government has notched up in its nearly 30-month tenure, particularly in securing the nation’s boundaries. He said all small and big organisations needed to contribute to the government’s efforts — including small and big social, religious and non-governmental organisations. The PM stressed that his government was pursuing Upadhyaya’s vision of ‘Antyodaya’, helping the poorest, with the poor at the centre of its policies and programmes. He also appealed for creating an Indian society that was free of discrimination and full of peace and harmony.
He paid tributes to Upadhyaya for the pivotal role in making the Jana Sangh, and also the BJP, a political party with a strong organisational base, and not an outfit run by a handful of people.
He said Upadhayaya taught them to adapt with times, keep in step with the aspirations of the society and shed dead philosophies of the past, and that, he said, was the secret of the party’s success to have traversed the path from opposition to alternative in such a short time.