Just a few hours after the deadly attacksin Sri Lanka, on Easter Sunday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chasing another term in office, took advantage of the incident to grab higher votes for a second term by announcing himself the only one who can defeat "terrorists" threatening India.
"Should terrorism be finished or not?" Modi asked an election rally in the western state of Rajasthan. "Who can do this? Can you think of any name aside from Modi? Can anybody else do this?"
After condemning the series of deadly bomb attacks on Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels on Sunday that killed more than 200 people, Modi said, "In our neighbouring Sri Lanka, terrorists have played a bloody game. They killed innocent people".
Three Indian nationals are known to be among the dead in the Sri Lankan attacks, said Indian officials.
Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have promoted the government's national security record as a vote winner in India’s staggered general election that began on April 11th and will end on May 19th. Votes will be counted on May 23rd.
In particular, Modi's muscular stance against Pakistan, which New Delhi says backs armed Islamist militant groups, had boosted support for the BJP in a tightening election race where opposition parties have focused on weak jobs growth and low farm incomes.
India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads following tensions that took place early this year in a February suicide bomb attack in disputed Kashmir that killed 40 Indian paratroopers, and was claimed by a militant group based in Pakistan. Modi then sent warplanes to Pakistan to bomb a purported training camp, in India’s first such aerial strike since 1971.
At another rally in Rajasthan, on Sunday, Modi again mentioned the attacks in Sri Lanka and said that India, too, continues to suffer because of militants.
"India has now ended its policy of getting scared of Pakistan's threats," Modi said, "'We have a nuclear button, we have a nuclear button' they used to say."
"What do we have then?" he said, to cheers from the crowd.
Pakistan has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads, compared with India’s 130-140 warheads, according to estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Both countries have ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.