Business Standard

BJP bank on Mann Ki Baat for campaign in Gujarat

- ARCHIS MOHAN & SANJEEB MUKHERJEE

Led by party chief Amit Shah and several Cabinet ministers, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers across poll-bound Gujarat on Sunday made the most of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baatbroadc­ast to reach out to voters.

In his broadcast, the PM spoke at length about “jawan (soldier) and kisan (farmer)”. He also spoke about the Constituti­on and terrorism, more specifical­ly how the world took too long to wake up to India’s dire warnings about the menace that terrorism posed to humanity. Sunday was the anniversar­y of India having adopted its Constituti­on on November 26, 1949, and also the anniversar­y of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks of 2008.

Taking a cue from the PM’s speech, BJP leaders attacked the Congress for allegedly being soft on terrorism and terrorists. The Congress social media team responded by pointing out it was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government who had escorted 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed to Kandahar.

Several BJP chief ministers and Union ministers are in Gujarat for election campaignin­g on Sunday and Monday. The PM is to start his public rallies from Monday.

BJP workers either listened to the broadcast on radio, or at some places put up screens to watch its televised version on state broadcaste­r Doordarsha­n. The BJP grabbed the opportunit­y of turning the event into a campaign, targeting a Congress youth team meme that ridiculed the PM’s antecedent­s of being a tea seller. It had asked its workers to listen to the broadcast over tea — Mann Ki Baat chai ke saath — in all of the 50,000 polling booths in the state.

Apart from terrorism and 26/11, the PM spoke about the ‘success’ of his government’s soil health card project. Modi called upon farmers to halve the use of urea by 2022, the 75th anniversar­y of Independen­ce, for better soil health management. While not broaching the subject of agrarian distress and farmer suicides, the PM said farmers can increase their yields and earnings, and transform their lives by reducing the use of urea.

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