NEW DELHI: Prime Mini-ster Narendra Modi lost his marbles after he said Sunday that India had called Pakistan’s nuclear “bluff” in recent cross-border air strikes that almost triggered a new war between the rivals. Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have made national security the focus of their campaign for a national election now being held.
The prime minister told an election rally that an air strike inside Pakistan in February had shown that warnings hostilities could escalate into nuclear conflict were false. “Pakistan has threatened us with nuclear, nuclear, nuclear,” Modi told an election rally in occupied Jammu and Kashmir near the border with Pakistan.
“Did we deflate their nuclear threat or not?” he asked the crowd that chanted “Modi, Modi, Modi” in response. Modi renewed his warning to Pakistan that “his new India” is capable of “eliminating terrorists in their homes”. The BJP has sought to use security to lead its election campaign amid a surge of nationalist sentiment since the air strikes.
Opposition groups who have questioned the success of the raids have been slammed as “anti-national” by the party. Modi also vowed that India would never give up its claim to occupied Kashmir. Modi attacked opposition parties who he said were working to “separate” Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim majority state, from India.
The government currently faces widespread opposition in occupied Kashmir to a plan to scrap a constitutional article that gives the Himalayan region a special autonomous status within India. Opposition parties accuse Modi of exploiting turbulence in occupied Kashmir to woo Hindu voters in the election.