With its internal surveys continuing to predict a favourable outcome for the BJP in several states, the personal attacks on its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from the Congress on the issue of his marital status does not seem to have dampened its leaders' confidence.
The party mood remains upbeat as indications from the states are that Modi still draws popular support and the elections are becoming increasingly one-sided. “The NDA is now capable of achieving the halfway mark by itself,” a BJP leader said.
The party’s assessment is that the Congress has lost the thread of its campaign. Even a bid by its leader Rahul Gandhi for a course correction by piping down the attack on Modi would not help revive its “feeble” campaign.
On the other hand, BJP leaders claim that their party campaign remains on track as charted by Modi. In fact, a BJP insider said, Modi had himself braced for an attack by the opposition after he had consulted a top party leader and two lawyers on the matter before filing his nomination papers. The conclusion was that the row over his estranged wife would not be “sustainable” beyond a point.
Rather, the BJP had reasons to be buoyed by the high voter turnout in the four phases of the polls held so far. Senior party leader Arun Jaitley said, “An exceedingly high poll percentage always has a method. A larger number of people come to vote when something motivates them. In the present case, it is the desire for a change which has motivated the higher vote percentage. An exceedingly high vote percentage is bad news for the Congress.”
Most BJP leaders are of the view that Rahul Gandhi has not been able to click as a leader acceptable to this country. His latest interview to a TV channel also did not offer any correction. “Let alone the ordinary citizen, his ability to inspire even the Congress cadre is questionable. His understanding of the economy is suspect. But the desperation that he has recently displayed (on Modi’s marriage) makes one wonder whether his level of discourse can at all be prime ministerial,” Jaitley said.
Defending Modi, Jaitley said the Gujarat CM and his wife were married as children and never lived together. “Modi, therefore, made a truthful disclosure. Since when has the declaration of a lawful relationship, whether acted upon or not, become a political issue? Indian politics has an unstated code of conduct. Ordinarily, we don’t drag families and ladies into any controversy.”