HindustanTimes Tue,25 Nov 2014
As D-day nears, Cong pits common man against Modi
Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, December 07, 2012
First Published: 00:11 IST(7/12/2012)
Last Updated: 00:13 IST(7/12/2012)
Chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi uses three-dimensional (3-D) audio-visual technology in its campaign for State Assembly polls in Gujarat at an open ground of Shastrinagar area of Ahmedabad. PTI Photo

The Aam Admi lexicon might have been hijacked by Arvind Kejriwal for his party, but in Gujarat, the common man is fighting the battle for the Congress against Gujarat's vikas purush, Narendra Modi.

Across the state, Congress election hoardings have given party leaders, including high command Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi, a miss and instead highlighted the common man and his issues, asking Gujaratis to give a new direction to the state.

The party has positioned the common Gujarati against Modi, who is the sole star featuring on the BJP election posters and TV ads and the high-tech 3D holograms.

"The idea was to highlight the common man and address local issues whether it's VAT on petrol or healthcare or farmers' issues. We know that Modi's is a towering personality in Gujarat and to pitch any leader against him would have worked against us," admitted a senior Congress leader, who did not want to be named.

Political observers say the strategy works at a level as the party has not given Modi a direct punching bag by not positioning any leader as a chief minister candidate. Also, it contrasts with Modi's 'I, me and myself' campaign.

The Gujarat CM referred to this in his rallies, mocking the Congress saying this was the first time the Gandhi family had not featured in the party's election propaganda.

But the strategy has the BJP rattled and on the defensive. Especially as the Congress statistics puncture the Gujarat government's development claims.

The BJP is not amused and has asked all its local leaders to correct the 'wrong impression' created through Congress publicity campaign.

"We are concerned about the Congress campaign because it has been done to mislead voters. They have used statistics that they cannot attribute to any real surveys or studies. They are using photographs of women in Sri Lanka and farmers in Rajasthan to show Gujarat in a bad light," said BJP's national spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman, who has been camping in the state.

She added that the party planned to give a fitting reply by sourcing data from the Prime Minister's Office that monitors progress of the state to show how Gujarat is among the top five states across all indicators.

"We would like to see how BJP counters our statistics. This information has been painstakingly collated over the last one year through Right to information and other government-documented data. For instance, I had asked for 56 RTIs on the work done by government on Narmada canal work," said Manish Doshi, Congress spokesperson in Gujarat.

He added that photos used in the campaign were symbolic and the BJP was nit-picking. "The BJP has used photographs of roads in Texas and palmed them off as Gujarat roads so many times."

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