In virtually every democracy, candidates for high political office have used the specter of foreign threats (and the spinelessness of their opponents) to drum up votes, but the BJP has taken this practice to new heights in its bid to wrest control of India’s parliament away from the ruling Congress Party. The party’s candidate for PM, Narendra Modi, recently spoke in India’s Punjab province, which has seen a spike in drug smuggling from neighboring Pakistan. DNA has the text of Modi’s hysterical accusations:
“The people who cannot defeat us in wars, those who cannot destroy us by the bombs and bullets of terrorists, those who fail to break our country internally, such inimical forces have now taken to new route, which is very dangerous and that is narco-terrorism,” Modi told an election rally here for BJP candidate from Gurdaspur constituency Vinod Khanna.Every mother, especially every mother of Punjab, is worried that [her] son does not get addicted,” [Modi] said referring to the drug menace which has increased in the state over the years.Modi said when the BJP-led NDA [coalition] at the Centre comes to power, it will put an end to drugs being pushed into Indian territory from across the border.
Relations in Pakistan are hardly warm toward India, but in contrast to Modi Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ran on the promise of normalizing relations. While the civilian consensus in Pakistan is almost unanimously in favor of better relations with India, the Indian public is still divided on the issue. The BJP has consistently criticized the ruling Congress Party for being soft on cross-border terrorism—a euphemism for incursions by Pakistani militants. Modi even accused upstart challenger Arvind Kejriwal of being a Pakistani agent. Another BJP candidate, alluding to Indian Muslims, announced at an election rally that those criticizing Modi “will only have space in Pakistan, not India.”The BJP has taken on more than just Pakistan as well. Modi has accused the Congress Party of killing rhinoceroses “so that the area [in the state of Assam] becomes empty and Bangladeshis can be settled there.” Modi also gave a fiery speech lambasting China for its claims to the disputed state of Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India. Modi is no doubt hoping that such populist rabble-rousing against foreign threats will get him elected and give his party a strong enough hand to form a stable ruling coalition. If it does, then he’ll have time enough to worry about mending fences with India’s neighbors.