Missing: kinetic response

Truth remains as truth while falsehood pales with time. The observation by senior Congressman Manish Tewari about the November 2008 serial attacks on landmarks in Mumbai deserves special attention. His take is that the then UPA government headed by the Congress party failed to adequately respond to the attacks. In a soon-to-be published book, titled 10 Flashpoints, 20 Years, Tewari stresses that there are times when action should speak louder than words and there should have been a “kinetic” response to Pakistan for what it did. No doubt, it was a moment of shame for India. The attackers played mayhem in Taj Mahal Palace hotel, a prominent café in Colaba and at VT-CST railway station, almost unhindered. The Indian security forces did not have the training or wherewithal to face such an attack. They cut a sorry figure in full view of the television viewers around the world. Nearly 170 people – including the high and mighty inside the hotel – were killed and some 500 injured at the hands of about 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists who acted in concert. In sum, it was the Indian leadership’s weakness that got eloquently displayed.
Manish Tewari is a parliamentarian, former Union Minister and a spokesperson for the Congress party for a considerably long time. He chose to speak out after about 13 years and, curiously, such comments were not made even by those in the Opposition. The Indian political establishment is, overall, caught in a sense of lethargy and there is a spectacular deficit when it comes to protecting and furthering national interests. India is a nation on the defensive – because those who lead India from the front did not show the courage to confront. Exception was when Indira Gandhi chose to act effectively by moving the army to East Pakistan to help the people there to declare Independence from Islamabad and form Bangladesh at the height of a Mukti Bahini offensive against the Pakistani army. Dr Manmohan Singh was a dove; Narendra Modi did execute a surgical strike and the Balakot bombing, but both were at best touch-and-go offensives. In Ladakh, it was a response to Chinese aggression.
It is no secret that Manish Tewari, a leader from Punjab, is among the ‘Group of 23’ in the Congress party that has been seeking a rejuvenation of the Congress party and elections to its top posts. He is not in the good books of the party. Be that as it may, truth must be stated – and stated loudly too. Tewari chose to call a spade a spade.

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