Under relentless attack from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, the Congress is busy reworking its strategy to counter him.
The party has now decided to engage the Gujarat chief minister on contentious issues of Article 370, uniform civil code and Ram temple at Ayodhya along with foreign and economic policies.
The BJP maintains it will scrap Article 370, which accords special status to Jammu and Kashmir, from the constitution, enforce a uniform civil code for all citizens of the country irrespective of their religion and construct a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya if it comes to power at the Centre on its own.
The BJP’s opponents question its silence on these issues when it led a coalition government (the National Democratic Alliance) at the Centre from 1998 to 2004.
In power, the Hindu nationalist party had set aside these issues and worked on an NDA agenda for governance.
So far, Modi has maintained silence on these issues and also said that poor Hindus and Muslims must fight poverty and not each other.
He also has talked of “India First” being his party’s primary objective in all its approaches to solve the country’s ills.
Modi’s aggressive campaigning has forced the Congress to constantly review its strategy to counter him.
From completely ignoring him in its campaign for Gujarat assembly elections last year to now directly engaging him on these controversial subjects, the Congress hopes to push Modi to take up Hindutva issues so that the BJP’s bid to project itself anew is thwarted.
“We’ll put questions to him through the media and other forums. Let him spell out his stand on these issues,” said a Congress strategist who did not want to be named.
On foreign policy, the Congress would look to corner Modi by asking him to state his position on whether India should hold dialogue with Pakistan or not.
The Congress attack on Modi, according to indications, could begin after the declaration of results of coming elections in five states.