Kashmir is ablaze and relations with Pakistan are at a low. Consequently, the communal cauldron is on a slow simmer. The gas can always be turned on for it to bubble over. All of this is not without purpose. Elections to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Goa assemblies are due in February. The Modi government will have completed half its term. If hard saffron is to be the chosen line in these elections, softness with Pakistan hardly serves a purpose. “Development” as a platform will be required in 2019 General Elections.
The Vajpayee-led government faced similar choices in July 2001.. Today, of course, the Modi-Amit Shah duet will settle on a hard line for the coming state elections. But in July 2001, there were two views in the BJP on the platform for the UP elections. Vajpayee and then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh were on the same page — a softer line, approximating to the middle ground which would open the door to a wider electorate.