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