New Delhi: Sometimes Narendra Modi fails to keep a sense of proportion and goes to excess. He has done that in Gujarat by alleging a conspiracy between Pakistan and the Congress party to win the Gujarat elections. This is not just ridiculous but dangerous. In his desperation for electoral victory, the prime minister has turned geopolitics into a political football. Its consequences for the country are far-reaching.

Elections come and go but a country’s foreign interests are of a permanent nature. Unless facts and circumstances compel it, geopolitics should never be employed -- far less manipulated -- for domestic political gains. We have seen this happening with Donald Trump. Solely to satisfy his base and his donors and sustain his political longevity, the US president has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It will lead to more -- and not less -- geopolitical turmoil in addition to isolating the United States.

India-Pakistan relations are at a nadir without Narendra Modi having to plunge it lower. Periodically, India has featured in Pakistan’s elections when the Kashmir issue has been raging and one side sees political gain in accusing the other of selling out to this country. Rival political parties do this less now. It is terrorist groups with political pretensions like the Lashkar-e-Toiba which fan hatred against India. By and large Pakistan public opinion is not swayed.

Save Narendra Modi, nobody is really fixated in this country about Pakistan during elections. Pakistan, furthermore, holds no traction for Indian Muslims, election or no election. Surprisingly, Atal Behari Vajpayee and L. K. Advani thought to the contrary and sought close ties with Pakistan to win over Indian Muslims. Beyond traditional pockets of support for Vajpayee, say with the Shias of Lucknow, it did not work, and the Shias were unlikely to vote for Vajpayee because of friendly ties with Pakistan.

The Bharatiya Janata Party usually has swung from Vajpayee’s extremes of affection for Pakistan to the intense hatred of it felt by the majority of the ruling party which includes Modi and such close aides as Amit Shah. (The rest do not matter.) Since Pakistan is India’s immediate neighbour on the west and relations are tense, the middle path of moderation and balance are recommended. And in any case, inserting Pakistan into domestic politics is highly objectionable and to be abjured at all costs. While the Indian electorate is mature and unlikely to be moved by Modi’s reckless allegations, chances cannot be taken. Nationalism stoked for ephemerality such as an election could haunt the government when conditions for bilateral peace ripen.

Apologists for Modi insist that the Congress started the business of the “foreign hand”. Two wrongs do not make a right. Besides, when Indira Gandhi invoked the “foreign hand” to put the Opposition on the defensive, it was at the height of the Cold War. It is well-known that both Great Power rivals in the Cold War sought to gain influence in the Third World by hook or by crook. Non-aligned India was an obscenity for the United States.

Even so, the “foreign hand” was about Great Powers subverting lesser states like India. This is not the case with Pakistan. Despite military nuclear parity, India is all round the bigger player. Theoretically, India has the means to influence elections in Pakistan if elections may be so influenced which is doubtful. The reverse is not true at all. Narendra Modi’s allegations are so patently absurd that it is indefensible.

Indeed, incredibly, Pakistan has claimed the higher moral ground following Narendra Modi’s irresponsible utterances. Its foreign office spokesman said, “India should stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate and win victories on own strength rather than fabricated conspiracies, which are utterly baseless and irresponsible.”

Apparently, the Trumpification of Narendra Modi is well underway, and it presents a sad commentary on Indian democracy and politics.