iconimg Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times
Nadiad/Anand, December 09, 2012
With only three days of campaigning left for the first round of voting on December 13, the Congress’s low key-vote consolidation election strategy has left the ruling BJP fearing a low turnout of voters on polling day — leading to a tighter electoral contest.

From bustling Ahmedabad to Nadiad in the heart of the Amul belt, the Congress poll strategy becomes very evident.

One can’t help but notice that photographs of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, PM Manmohan Singh and general secretary Rahul Gandhi are conspicuously absent from party posters put up by individual candidates.

Last weekend, there was a blitzkrieg of BJP leaders, with no less than 12 national leaders campaigning for Modi across the state.

The Congress fort — on the other hand — was held only by Union power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit made an appearance in Ahmedabad for releasing the manifesto.

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More action was seen later with Sonia Gandhi addressing rallies and central BJP leaders descending on Gujarat, too.

Stating that they had deliberately adopted the strategy of keeping the campaign low-key, Congress sources said it was done to prevent Modi from polarising voters along communal lines, “We are consolidating our voters, hoping that the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) of Keshubhai Patel will dent Modi in Saurashtra”.

While Modi is confident and contends that “only 20% of his campaign strategy had been unveiled” till now, Amit Shah feels that the Congress strategy will backfire with the GPP eating into the votebanks of both the main parties.

The Congress’s cold campaign strategy has left the ruling party slightly unnerved.

A section of the BJP leadership feels that the Congress’s ploy is two-fold: Keep the voter turnout low and help Keshubhai dent Modi’s votebank by cutting into BJP’s 48-49% vote and consolidate its own 35-38% minority vote.