Modi, Rahul adopt dif­fer­ing styles on Gu­jarat elec­tion trail

While Naren­dra Modi will hold road shows to con­nect with the vot­ers in the state, Rahul Gandhi prefers to hold pub­lic meet­ings

Mint Asia ST - - News - BGY YAN VA RMA & MAU LIK PAT HAK

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tweaked its poll strat­egy for the up­com­ing as­sem­bly elec­tions in Gu­jarat to al­low its star cam­paigner Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to do more road shows.

“The elec­tion cam­paign will re­volve around Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi be­cause he is the one who gets the votes for the party. Since the PM doesn’t have the time to get in­volved in door-to-door cam­paigns and there can also be se­cu­rity con­cerns, there is a view to hold road shows so that peo­ple get to see and meet the PM. It is the clos­est PM can go to the pub­lic,” said a se­nior BJP leader from Gu­jarat.

The most re­cent road­show of Modi was or­ga­nized on Sun­day when he vis­ited his birth­place Vad­na­gar on the last day of a two-day visit to the state.

The as­sem­bly elec­tion in Gu­jarat is im­por­tant for the BJP. Since Modi be­came PM in 2014, the state has wit­nessed ag­i­ta­tions by Pa­tels and Dal­its, lead­ing to the re­place­ment of for­mer chief min­is­ter Anandiben Pa­tel by Vi­jay Ru­pani in Au­gust 2016.

The BJP has, mean­while, taken out a Gu­jarat Gau­rav Ya­tra to show­case the achieve­ments of Modi’s de­vel­op­ment model in 149 of the 182 as­sem­bly con­stituen­cies.

In the last six months, Modi has held four road­shows in the state. In Septem­ber, Modi took out a mas­sive road­show in Ahmed­abad in the com­pany of the vis­it­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter, Shinzo Abe.

In re­sponse, the BJP’S prin­ci­pal ri­val, Con­gress, has also stepped up its cam­paign, even be­fore the elec­tion dates have been an­nounced, un­der the lead­er­ship of Rahul Gandhi. But un­like his ri­val, the Con­gress vi­cepres­i­dent has pre­ferred to hold ral­lies.

Gandhi, on Mon­day, be­gan the sec­ond leg of the Navsar­jan Ya­tra in Cen­tral Gu­jarat, where he will visit var­i­ous dis­tricts as part of his three­day tour. Tak­ing a swipe at Modi for his pop­u­lar ra­dio pro­gramme Mann Ki Baat, Gandhi said that if the Con­gress came to power in the state they would rather lis­ten to the peo­ple.

At a rally in Kheda district, Gandhi asked a crowd: “What has hap­pened to vikas (de­vel­op­ment) in Gu­jarat? How did it go mad? It went mad be­cause of the lies that were told in the name of de­vel­op­ment.”

The Con­gress made the BJP’S de­vel­op­ment model the cen­tre of its elec­tion cam­paign. From GST (goods and ser­vices tax) im­ple­men­ta­tion, un­em­ploy­ment, farmer’s is­sues, slow­down in the econ­omy and crony cap­i­tal­ism, Gandhi has been rais­ing sev­eral is­sues to un­seat the BJP which has been in power in the state for over two decades.

His pre­vi­ous visit be­gan with him of­fer­ing prayers at the fa­mous Dwarkad­hish Tem­ple in Dwarka town of Saurash­tra and he vis­ited many other tem­ples in­clud­ing shrines of the Pati­dar com­mu­nity in Saurash­tra.

Mem­bers of the pow­er­ful com­mu­nity have been at log­ger­heads with the state govern­ment over the reser­va­tion is­sue.

On Mon­day, Gandhi vis­ited the fa­mous Santram­pur Tem­ple in Na­diad and he is sched­uled to visit more shrines dur­ing his three-day visit.

Gandhi’s visit is seen as an at­tempt to play the soft Hin­dutva card in Modi’s home state.

The Con­gress leader has been stop­ping on the way, talk­ing to peo­ple, waving at them and promis­ing change. Con­gress, which had 57 MLAS in the cur­rent as­sem­bly suf­fered a set­back when 14 quit to join the BJP while sev­eral oth­ers cross-voted in the pres­i­den­tial polls lead­ing to their ex­pul­sion.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts feel Modi’s road­shows in Varanasi had yielded good re­sults for the BJP. “Just as Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi had used a sim­i­lar strat­egy in Varanasi—road­shows were ben­e­fi­cial for BJP —the party is now hop­ing for sim­i­lar re­sults. Pub­lic meet­ings are a thing of the past; road­shows are a new way to meet the vot­ers di­rectly,” said Ab­hay Ku­mar Dubey, New Delhi-based po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst.

gyan.v@livemint.com

The up­com­ing as­sem­bly elec­tions in Gu­jarat is im­por­tant for the rul­ing BJP

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