NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly told his cabinet colleagues to refrain from chest thumping over India’s claims of a cross border raid against terrorists in Azad Kashmir, but wall posters were out in his constituency in Varanasi depicting him as Lord Ram and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as demon king Ravana who Ram slayed.
Mr Modi is reported to be planning to visit Uttar Pradesh on Dussehra, which falls on October 11. Elections in Uttar Pradesh are due next year, and form a key test of the prime minister’s popularity.
The Indian Express said the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to accord a “warm reception” to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who plans to visit Lucknow on Thursday.
“Parrikar, a Rajya Sabha member from the state, arrives in state capital on Thursday and party cadres will accord him a warm reception,” the Express quoted a BJP spokesman as saying.
“The workers are upbeat after the success of the Indian Army and it is natural for them to express themselves by according a warm reception to all those connected with it, and the local unit has drawn up a grand welcome programme,” the spokesman added.
Reports said BJP workers in the state capital have put up big hoardings thanking Mr Modi and Mr Parrikar for “teaching a lesson to Pakistan”.
The Express said that the Varanasi unit of the Shiv Sena, an ally of Mr Modi’s ruling coalition, has portrayed political relations in a new light through a series of posters. They depict Mr Modi as Lord Ram, his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif as the demon king Ravana and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as Meghnad, a son of Ravana. Mr Kejriwal has been trolled for asking the government to show how Pakistan’s claims of no strike were false.
According to NDTV, Mr Modi met his cabinet colleagues on Wednesday and counselled no "chest thumping" and no speaking out of turn. It said it is a clear message as the government attempts to put the lid on a war of words with opposition parties.
In the last two days, a fragile political unity has unravelled after it was built in the first few hours of the announcement about the "surgical strikes". Most opposition parties, including the Congress, had then issued messages of support for the government.
But after Mr Kejriwal broke ranks to seek evidence of the strikes, which have been denied by Pakistan, Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh and Sanjay Nirupam raised questions too.
The Congress has also accused the ruling BJP of trying to get political mileage from a matter of national security, with spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala claiming that surgical strikes were conducted thrice when their party led the central government, but "in its maturity, wisdom and in the interest of national security, the Congress Government avoided making loud claims".
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Meghnad is a brother of Ravana. The error is regretted.