Shadow of clouds over polls lifting

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement on Thursday in Parliament to release the Indian pilot promises to avert the possibility of yet another bilateral armed conflict, lifting the dark clouds that were casting a shadow on the Lok Sabha.

But keen to keep up the pressure on Pakistan, the Modi government held a joint press conference addressed by high ranking officers of Indian Air Force, Army and Navy to assert that India continues to remain in a ready and alert state to take on any Pakistani adventure.

One of the main objectives of the joint press conference was to produce evidence of the use of F-16 jet fighters against Indian military installations on Wednesday, to convey a clear message to Washington that Islamabad was violating its word that American F-16 fighter jet would not be put to use against India.

While sources in the government firmly said ‘no’ to Imran Khan’s offer of talks, none of the Indian officials had a word of appreciation for the Pakistani “peace gesture.” They described the promised release of the pilot as a necessary action under the Geneva Convention.

The Modi government, however, intends to fully use Pulwama tragedy and the subsequent developments for reaping electoral dividend. This is more than obvious as neither Modi, nor any of the BJP leaders, have any moral compunction to halt political activity. Modi’s strategy is to show that India has made Pakistan dance to its tunes.

With an eye transfixed on electoral gains, the Modi government is not going to take any steps that may be construed as backing down. Hard postures will be maintained till the holding of general elections and a dialogue with Pakistan would start only after the electoral victory.

Developments emanating from the Pulwama tragedy are undoubtedly going to impact the outcome of the general elections with the BJP primarily benefiting from it. However, the latest development of release of Wing Commander Abhinandan by Pakistan may change the sentiment. It remains to be seen whether public perception moves along Modi’s desired objective or not.

It is very difficult to maintain and sustain the war narrative until elections, so that people forget real problems of lack of governance, jobs and price rise. Nonetheless, the outcome of the general elections would depend upon the counter attack of the opposition.

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