iconimg Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Sujata Anandan, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, December 11, 2012
“Gumrah” is a word that is heard often in the speeches of Congress leaders campaigning in Gujarat. One of them — Ahmed  Patel — actually used it 18 times in a half-hour speech. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, too, mentions once in every speech how the Gujarat government  is misleading its own people on the  growth and development indices.

It has got under chief minister Narendra Modi’s skin. Lately, he has taken to appealing people not to forgive the Congress president for calling their beloved CM a liar.

But Modi is not above purveying a bit of misinformation himself. He slams Gandhi for seeking votes in the name of her mother-in-law. “Vote for me because my saasu ma (Mrs Indira Gandhi) was here before me,” he accuses her of saying. “What kind of poll plank is that?” he asks applauding crowds.

But that is entirely untrue. So far, Gandhi has only pointed out the shortfalls in the development process and promised the people that they will get every benefit of Central government schemes — now denied — if they vote for the Congress.

On Monday, the Congress came up with some facts and figures to prove that neither Gandhi nor any other leader was misleading the people. The man fielded for the purpose was the Haryana veteran, chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Hooda flew down to Surat for a unique kind of campaign — visiting the residents of high-rise buildings. Over lunch, he told them how his state, one-third the size of Gujarat, had better indices and was leading on many parameters.

His list included figures from many areas — agriculture, industrial growth and facilities made available to people — in which Gujarat lagged behind Haryana. Even in per capita income, Gujarat, he told them, was way below at number six.

The Congress, thus, justified the use of the other oft-mentioned word that has enraged Modi: khokhla (hollow).

Hooda minced no words in showing up Modi’s claims as hollow. He said the BJP had neither neeti, niyat or neta (policies, intentions and leaders).

Hooda, however, got stumped by a key question — why the Gujarat Congress is leaderless and needs to field chief ministers from other states.

Hooda had the stock reply: "We will find an able CM once we get a majority."

But here and now, the Congress, obviously, has none to match Modi’s leadership.