NEW DELHI: The first sign that all is not well with the constituency that has been over the top in its praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the silence that greeted reports that the government had failed to follow up on its promise of teaching Pakistan a good lesson, even after 17 soldiers were killed at the Army base camp in Uri in a terror attack.

The sudden silence on what had been a highly belligerent social media was deafening. RSS leader Ram Madhav’s. “for one tooth a complete jaw” seemed to sum up the mood of the RSS/BJP supporters earlier, as Twitter and television buzzed with ‘experts’ declaring war. There is no other option, they said, and silenced critics with, “you wait for the PM’s response, it will show Pakistan and the world the stuff India is made of.”

In this war mongering no one was being able to take into account the reality of established geo-politics that laid out the one basic ground rule for India and Pakistan several years ago, more so when both went nuclear: No war. There has been no shift in this position regardless of the many visits by PM Modi to Washington, and other capitals of the world.

It was because of this that the Cabinet Committee of Security convened by the PM after the Uri attack was not able to take a decision favouring immediate military retaliation. Instead it spoke of a diplomatic offensive, of the PM saying that Pakistan will be isolated, all small hat for the large expectation that had been built by the BJP centering around ‘we will bring Pakistan to its knees’ propaganda. The hawks fell silent, while some came out with critical comments castigating the PM and the government for failing the people, and for being no different from other governments before.

The national security plank used by the BJP in its polarising nationalism vs anti-national debate lies in tatters. More so as it rested on Kashmir and Pakistan. And the belief, carefully propagated by the BJP/RSS cadres that PM Modi would not tolerate any adventurism by the neighbouring country, and would not hesitate to take action unlike past leaders who had chickened out of making India’s writ being felt in Pakistan militarily. The attack on Pathankot had dented this claim to some extent, more so when an Intelligence Services Officer of Pakistan came in a delegation to ‘investigate’ the terror attack, and was allowed inside the premises of the Indian Air Force camp by the government.

However, subsequently National Security Advisor Ajit Doval who is seen as the PM’s key advisor on national security, managed to overcome this setback in the BJPs constituency, by the escalation of a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan, and a relentless push on Kashmir. To a point where even pellet guns were not removed from the streets of Kashmir despite the unanimous demand of the entire Opposition, lest it be seen as a caving in. And the rhetoric against Pakistan was taken to a level, through encouraged television debates and “sources” based stories, from where the next step could only be war, or so it had begun to seem over the last several months with no let up in hostility that was gathering bullet train speed.

The Uri attack has changed the position dramatically. For one, it has made it very clear to the party and its cadres that the government today is as shackled as the one before---regardless of the ridicule heaped on the Congress by the BJP hawks---and cannot take its military across the border without serious consequences. The inability to respond militarily to Pakistan, despite the provocation of two quick attacks on its military bases and the death now of 17 soldiers, has hit the BJP hard. More so as expectations had been raised to fever pitch through sustained, and managed, propaganda.

Two, it has broken the BJP’s territorial right over the military where it was being touted as the only national party willing to walk the extra mile for its soldiers. Military sources point out that a befitting response, if any, has a short time limit that has long since expired. The inability to act even after soldiers were killed further erodes the national security claims that passed for policy under the currrent government.

Three, NSA Doval is being targeted in mails by retired defence officers for escalating the rhetoric to a point from where there was only a a point of return. This climbdown is now under severe attack. The issue of Balochistan, brought up reportedly by the PM at Doval’s suggestion, has also had little reverberation globally. The US has made it clear that Balochistan is an integral part of Pakistan in an official statement, thereby setting the lid on an issue that no other country is in a mood to pick up. Except for a few Balochi’s in exile, with one of them now wanting asylum in India, there has been little for India to exult about on this front.

And four, Kashmir continues to burn, and make headlines in the international media. The pellet injuries and the use of force against the young people has forced two debates in the Indian Parliament, meetings by Opposition parties, and a visit by an all party parliamentary delegation where MPs broke ranks to visit the Kashmiri separatists as part of an effort to start a dialogue. That India is divided on the approach to Kashmir, and the BJP-PDP virtually isolated, is a signal that has been sent out very effectively to the world.