Narendra Modi can be challenged in his own den. This is the message Arvind Kejriwal managed to put across by carrying out a four-day tour of Gujarat to verify Modi's claims of exemplary development in the state, analysts say.
The Aam Aadmi Party chief went to meet Modi at his
residence without an appointment, TV cameras in tow, and ask him 17 questions. The move has been interpreted variously here, but all agree the fledgling party would make a dent into Congress' space in the long run. Full coverage
"At Kanpur, Kejriwal had challenged Modi to contest against him in Varanasi. Now, he very effectively put across the challenge at Modi's doorstep," said Prakash Shah, an Ahmedabad based civil society activist and political analyst.
"It's a psychological victory for Kejriwal," he said.
According to Vidyut Joshi, former vice-chancellor Bhavnagar University, Kejriwal was successful in laying the foundation of "alternative politics", which the Congress could not.
"Kejriwal tried to bring out the contradictions in the state. His Modi myth-busting may have been pre-determined, but it did lay the foundation of a non-BJP, non-Congress force here," he said.
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Both the major parties the BJP and Congress have been dominating the Lok Sabha elections in the state, which has 26 seats, in the past two elections. While in 2004, BJP won 14 seats and the Congress 12. In 2009, BJP increased its tally to 15 compared with Congress 11.
The saffron party won its highest number of seats in the state under former chief minister Keshubhai Patel in 1999, when it won 20 seats, reducing the Congress tally to six.
Modi has not been able to repeat the feat despite his claims of development and good governance. This election, however, the BJP's PM nominee expects to better Patel's record.
Will Kejriwal's four-day blitzkrieg spoil BJP's ambitions or dent Congress' vote bank?
"It would be foolish to assume that AAP will make a debut here, Kejriwal's stunt or no stunt," Joshi said.
"Modi has mesmerised voters with his claims of development and they would vote en mass to his party this election. It would take time for Kejriwal to bust Modi's myth. It would not happen immediately."
Indu Kumar Jani, a social activist, differs with Joshi and believes the AAP could win five to six seats in Gujarat.
"Kejriwal in his visit has made an impression on the neutral and anti-BJP voters who could have voted for the Congress in the absence of an alternative. This section of voters will vote for AAP," he said.
During his tour, which started on March 5, Kejriwal not only questioned Modi's "vikashpurush" image, but also called the state's development model flawed. He had visited primary health centres and schools and met farmers.
At Mundra, in Kutch district, he said only industrialists such as Ambani and Adani have developed at the cost of the common man.
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"While the farmers in the state have suffered, Adani and Ambani have prospered," he said on Thursday, the second day of his tour.?
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