Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clear message to ministers and party leaders that there must be no “chest thumping” about last week’s surgical strikes by the army has so far not interfered with the Uttar Pradesh BJP’s plan to honour Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today.

A big hoarding at the BJP office in Lucknow, featuring the PM and the Defence Minister, “salutes” the army “for carrying out surgical strikes targeting terror camps” across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The Defence Minister will attend multiple programmes today in the capital of Uttar Pradesh, where crucial assembly elections will be held early next year. He has described Pakistan’s denial of the strikes as similar to an anaesthetized patient after surgery who is unaware of surgery. He also compared the army to that of Lord Hanuman’s in the epic Ramayana. PM Modi told his cabinet that ministers must not speak out of turn or gloat over the action across the de facto border which targeted seven terrorist staging areas.

“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. The local unit has drawn up a grand welcome programme,” a BJP spokesperson said about the plans for the Defence Minister.

“Political tamasha over national security is on. Raksha Mantri Parrikar to be felicitated by UP BJP. Elections to be held there next year,” tweeted the Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam, who commissioned a huge controversy by claiming that it’s tough to accept the strikes took place unless the government releases proof.
In Varanasi, PM Modi’s parliamentary constituency and also in Uttar Pradesh, BJP ally Shiv Sena has put up posters that feature PM Modi as Lord Ram and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif as the 10-headed demon king Ravan. “Another surgical strike is needed,” the posters say.

On Dussehra next Tuesday, PM Modi will also break with tradition by participating in celebrations not at Delhi’s famous Ramlila grounds, but in Lucknow, where he will set fire to a massive Ravan effigy symbolising the “demon of terror”.

The organisers claim that the message is linked to the surgical strikes conducted by the army.

“This is a festival, let it remain one,” said Ambika Chowdhury of UP’s ruling Samajwadi Party, also accusing the BJP of trying to get political benefit from the strikes.