Is it an image building exercise?
One thing is obvious from the current Myanmar imbroglio. It has started dawning on Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his steely image, which gifted him the prime ministerial post of the world’s largest democracy, has started taking a beating and something needs to be done urgently to repair it.
An obvious plant by India’s number one, why World’s number one English language newspaper, Times of India from the stable of media managers of this government carries prominently a report stating how the Army operation in Myanmar has silenced the Congress criticism that Modi’s 56 inch chest size did not measure up to his response to terror both inside the country and on the borders.
That story is a give away because it then exposes the operation salvage image instead of tom tomming it as a “hot pursuit.” Myanmar today denied Indian armed forces had actually crossed border to attack any NSCN (Khaplang) camp. inside Myanmar in retaliation to the ambush of an Army convey in Manipur last on June 4, killing 18 Indian soldiers and seriously injuring many more. Then there is also a discrepancy about the number of NSCN militants killed in the operation. While the Army which ostensibly conducted the operation claimed the death of 20 militants, the Union Home Ministry sources put the figure at 50. And since it is across the border with Myanmar denying the very action, there is no way to ascertain the truth.
However it has earned the Indian Government some bad publicity, resulting in the architect of this blitzkrieg Ajit Doval being dispatched post haste to Yangon to smoothen the ruffled feathers of the Myanamar government functionaries, upset at over publicized claims of India.
Curiously the Prime Minister seems to have given a short shrift to his Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and cold shouldered the Army itself, choosing instead the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore, an ex-Defence personnel no doubt, to blow the trumpet of Indian Army’s spectacular achievement of pursuing terrorists across the borders into the enemy territory. He of course served the main purpose by implicitly threatening Pakistan that it could be next in line if does not behave and continues harbouring terrorists on its soil.
Immediately the NDA trumpeteers got the hint and Prakash Javadekar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nitin Gadkari, et al started beating the drum loudly.
It is another thing that it had a complete opposite reaction in Pakistan which dared India to repeat Myanmar on its soil. In effect instead of putting some fear in the heart of Pakistan, it created a situation similar to 1998 when India’s second Pokhran nuclear explosion resulted in Pakistan going nuclear as well, nullifying any deterrence, if it was intended.
Forget about Modi’s critics. The doubt in the minds was created by none other than Union Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit. He said, “We did not use hot pursuit. We contacted Burmaa authorities before the attack. In reply to the ambush, the Indian Army carried out a rare cross-border operation in Myanmar in which special operation troops neutralized a high number of militants,” he said.
Assuming that the Indian Army contingent actually crossed the Indo-Burma border with or without the consent of that government, what’s the big deal? We have it on the authority of none other than the most faithful and authentic chronicler of the achievements of the Indian security forces, Indian Express Editor Praveen Swami that this is nothing new. The Indian security forces like the Pakistani armed forces have been conducting such surreptitious operations even deep inside the Pakistani soil and gave specific instances of such operations both in 1999 (under an NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee) and in 2006 (obviously a UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh).
There appears to be no other reason for this Government going to town over this operation except that it was desperately looking for some action to salvage its sagging image. How far it will work in the coming days has to be seen.