Indian Army’s surgical strike across the Line of Control made its presence felt in this year’s Vijayadashmi celebrations with effigies of Pakistan and terrorism burnt along with those of Ravan across several cities. Raising chants of Jai Shri Ram, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a Dussehra rally in Lucknow, gave a strong message against terrorism and said those who support terrorism would not be spared.
Nationalism was the flavour of the season, as BJP wanted to take the message across the country, particularly in the poll-bound states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Modi, along with Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, attended Dusshera celebrations at Aishbagh Ramleela Ground in Lucknow. Also present with him were senior state BJP leaders like Keshav Prasad Maurya, Dinesh Sharma and Lalji Tandon.
Though it was customary for the prime ministers to attend Dusshera celebrations in Delhi, Modi uses to travel to other parts of the country. Last year, he was in Andhra Pradesh. In 2014, he was present in Delhi on the occasion.
Earlier on Monday, in an apparent reference to the Army action, Modi had remarked that this year’s Dusshera had a special significance. The message appeared to have travelled across the country.
In Lucknow, the prime minister was presented a symbolic Sudharshan Chakra by the organisers. He started and ended his speech with chants of Jai Shri Ram, a chant which is also politically associated with the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Modi invoked the issue of terrorism drawing references from the Ramyana. “The first person to fight terrorism was Jatayu.…who fought for the honour of a woman. All of us cannot be Ram, but we at least can be Jatayu to fight terrorism.”
“I recall, in 1992-93, I was talking to the US state secretary about terrorism and he said it was your law and order problem. But after 9/11, it became an issue. If anyone thinks he is saved from terrorism, he should be in an illusion…”
“The whole world is being destroyed by terrorism. We have seen the picture of a small girl from Syria,” he said in his speech.
“Those who shelter and support terrorism cannot be spared,” he warned.
“Sometimes, wars are necessary in certain situations. But this is the land of Buddha. This is a country of charkha-spinning Mohan (Mahatma Gandhi) and Buddha. Ours is a country of transition from war to Budhha,” PM added.
He also referred to issues of cleanliness, illiteracy and girl child.
In Delhi, at several places like Dwarka and Indraprastha, effigies of ‘terrorism sponsored by Pakistan’ were burnt.
In Punjab also, effigies of Pakistan, its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, army chief Raheel Sharif and wanted terrorists like Hafiz Sayeed and Masood Azhar were burnt. Reports emanating from Mohali, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala said effigies of Pakistan sponsored terrorism were burnt.
Meanwhile, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, former PM Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi attended Dussehra celebrations in Delhi.