Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have revisited his earlier speeches and statements made on Pakistan, especially in the run up to the 2014 Lok Sabha Election, when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister before he rose to address a huge gathering at Kerala's Kozhikode during BJP's National Council Meet.
Thanks to social media, these things are easy to track and find. Amid India's strained relationship with Pakistan, a clip, which is just over a minute, of the then Gujarat chief minister and the current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi speaking on India TV has resurfaced. To a question, "What would you have done differently, when it came to dealing with Pakistan?", Modi, in this clip, is heard saying, "I would have done what I have done in Gujarat. I wouldn't have taken time. We should respond in their (Pakistan) language. Stop writing these love letters." Watch the clip here.
One of the biggest contribution by Modi as a politician has been his initiative to bring an information revolution by utilising social media. However, this same information can hurt the prime minister and his image, especially after his speech at Kozhikode where he sang a different tune. "I call upon people of Pakistan to come forward,fight a war on who defeats unemployment, poverty, illiteracy first. Lets see who wins?" Modi spoke of fighting a war but not by military means.
Modi's USP as a leader, both as a politician and an administrator in the government, is built over the years as a strong, clear-headed, decisive and a person who is aware of his actions both in the immediate and the medium run. When he addressed the audience in Kozhikode, he reflected the same clarity of ideas, catering to one kind of audience at one time. And then we heard the spontaneous chants of 'Modi Modi!'
Modi has been taken as a walking embodiment of BJP and Sangh Parivar's philosophy of Prakhar Rashtrawad or robust or assertive nationalism, suitably garnished with vision of strong and developed nation, the one who had courage and conviction to talk straight and call anyone's bluff, howsoever mighty, least of all to Pakistan.
When Modi rose to speak in Kozihode, his first public speech after the brazen Uri attacks, the air was loaded with expectations and when he finished after an hour and half, he had not done justice to those expectations. Before leaving for Kerala, Modi had recorded his Mann ki Baat where he said that the current mood of the nation was similar to how the nation was feeling ahead of 1965 war. So he clearly knew what the nation wanted from their prime minister. He had also met the Army Chief, Air Force Mrashal and Vice-chief of Navy. No one knows what transpired in that meeting, but it can be safely assumed that it was focussed on preparedness of the armed forces for post-Uri response.
Kozhikode rally would forever remain distinct for two reasons:
First, it was a rally where in departure from Modi's own style, he sought to address four disparate audiences — domestic, international community, people of Pakistan and its rulers. He couldn't really convince his core social constituency and a vast mass of his supporters. The speech seemed like a takeoff from his pre-May 2014 public speeches where he would talk of a competition or spirited fight between Maa-Bete ki sarkar at the Centre versus his sarkar in Gujarat.
Secondly, since 2012 December when the public had hailed Modi at the Ahmedabad rally, it was the first time in Kozhikode that those characteristic chants were missing and especially when Modi spoke on a subject close to the heart of Indians.
There are two possible inferences that can be made from Modi's speech. When he says that a time would come when Pakistani people would revolt against their "present rulers who read speech written by terrorists," it possibly means that the people of Pakistan will soon rise against the oppression of their own leaders or the unrest happening in Pakistan provinces — Sindh, Baloch, PoK — will eventually stand up to the Pakistani leadership. That situation is surely building and India is now not shying away from highlighting it.
Meanwhile, Modi is turning no stone unturned to unleash diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan on the gobal stage but that's easier said than done. Remember China has deep interests to back Pakistan and so do several other Islamic nations.
A section argued that Modi wanted to strike all the right notes to address international community through his Kozhikode speech so to prepare right build up and not to be seen as a war monger. The right to strike in self defence is granted in all situations.
Second, only Modi knows the kind of war preparedness India has, if a limited strike spirals into a full-fledged war. There have been several reports including Parliamentary standing committee which reflected a bleak state of military preparedness.
The question here remains — Is Modi's current outwardly pragmatism and restraint deceptive approach is something which Pakistan should continue to fear? Well, nobody other than Modi has an answer to that.