Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019, national security was on top of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s agenda.

While making a bid for power in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party promised an overhaul of national security, arguing that the Manmohan Singh government’s “lack of a strong and visionary leadership” had failed to protect the country.

When the Narendra Modi government stood for re-election in 2019, national security was arguably its most important plank, especially after the bombing raids inside Pakistan’s Balakot in February 2019.

“We will firmly continue our policy of ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism and extremism,” the 2019 manifesto promised.


Among the key promises of the BJP was the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the party’s ideological parent, had for years opposed the provision, arguing that it encouraged “disintegration” and “secessionist” tendencies.

In August 2019, the Modi government not just revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status but also its statehood. At the time, Union home minister Amit Shah said the move would lead to the end of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to government data, the number of active militants and terror incidents in Jammu and Kashmir have declined since 2019. Similarly, there has also been a substantial drop in civilian and security forces’ casualties.

However, there has been a spate of targetted attacks on non-locals and religious minorities in the same period.

Simultaneously, there has also been an uptick in terror activities in the Jammu region since 2019, show official statistics: the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch along the Line of Control have seen several militant strikes and infiltration attempts.


Another frontier in the Modi years has been on the boil: hostilities between India and China, along Line of Actual Control, the de facto border between the two countries, have escalated.

Things came to a head in May 2020 when Indian and Chinese forces clashed violently in Ladakh, the most ferocious fighting being in the Galwan valley, leading to the first border-dispute related deaths in over four decades. While things have largely stabilised since, Indian troops have reportedly lost access to 26 of the 65 patrolling points in Eastern Ladakh.


In August 2015, the Modi government signed a “historic” agreement with Nagaland’s largest insurgent group – the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) NSCN-IM – in what appeared to be an end to the country’s longest-running insurgency.

But nearly a decade after that agreement, a permanent solution remains elusive. While the Union government has entered into ceasefire agreements with other Naga insurgent groups, rounds of talks between Naga leadership and the Centre under the 2015 framework have gone nowhere.

The bone of contention is the NSCN-IM’s demand for a separate constitution and the recognition of its flag – a demand which has been rejected by the Centre. Amid the negotiations, the Centre has removed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from many districts in the state.

More recently, the Indian government has signed pacts with the United Liberation Front of Asom, which once led a separatist movement for an independent state of Assam, and Manipur’s oldest militant outfit, the United National Liberation Front.

But the biggest failure of the Modi government in the North East has come in Manipur – a state that has been in the grip of a civil war between the minority tribal community of Kuki-Zos and the Meitei majority since May 2023.

The violence in the northeastern state bordering Myanmar has left over 200 dead, thousands displaced, led to brutal sexual assaults against women and the rise of armed non-state actors like the Arambai Tenggol.

Both Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah have been criticised for turning a blind eye to the state which is being ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Border security

In its 2014 manifesto, the Bharatiya Janata Party had promised that it will step up India’s border security by completing “all pending fencing work along the India-Bangladesh and India-Myanmar border…”

Touching India’s five eastern states, the fencing of 4,097-km-long Indo-Bangladesh border fencing started in 1986. According to the 2023 annual report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, 3,180 km of the border has been already covered by physical fencing while the remaining will be covered by “physical and non-physical barriers”.

After missing the deadlines to complete the fencing work several times, the MHA has set a new deadline to complete the process by March 2024.

Earlier this month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced the fencing of the country’s entire 1,643-km border with Myanmar.

The move comes amid ethnic violence in Manipur which the N Biren Singh government blames on “illegal immigrants” from Myanmar. However, both Mizoram and Nagaland have voiced their opposition to the fencing of the border since they share close ethnic ties with tribal communities living in Myanmar.

Welfare of armed forces

In line with its 2014 manifesto, the Narendra Modi government implemented a contentious ‘One Rank One Pension scheme’ for retired defence personnel in November 2015.

But the scheme has been entangled in a legal battle after an association of retired defence veterans raised objections to the five-year revision of pension. Instead of One Rank One Pension, the veterans argued, the government’s 2015 policy replaced it with ‘One Rank Multiple Pensions’ for the same duration of service.

In March, 2022, the Supreme Court upheld the method adopted by the Union government in introducing the scheme. It also directed the government to pay all arrears to eligible pensioners within three months.

However, the government repeatedly failed to comply with the direction of clearing the arrears, prompting the Supreme Court to warn the Ministry of Defence of contempt.


With the total number vacancies in Indian army, navy and air force above 1.2 lakh personnel in 2021, the Modi government announced a controversial policy of recruiting soldiers in the tri-services of the Indian armed forces in June 2022. Under the Agnipath scheme, individuals aged between 17 and 21 years are eligible for a four-year service in the military. However, only 25% will be eligible for permanent recruitment in the services.

The announcement triggered protests from job aspirants across the country for whom joining defence forces is a permanent source of livelihood with pension and other benefits.

The scheme had caught the country’s military leadership by surprise. Many, including defence veterans, have questioned the effectiveness of the scheme and its impact for India’s internal as well as national security.