Congress plans to pit Gandhian against Modi | india | Hindustan Times
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Congress plans to pit Gandhian against Modi

india Updated: Nov 16, 2007 00:55 IST
Saroj Nagi

The Congress is exploring the possibility of fielding a Gandhian of repute or a woman candidate against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Mani Nagar while painting him “unGandhian'” during the two-phased Assembly elections in the state. A formal decision, however, is yet to be taken.

Political sources claimed that the Congress is at the moment in a “neck to neck’’ race with the BJP in Gujarat and needs a fresh burst of energy to edge past it through a mix of micro and macro management of the election.

This also involves banking on the party’s rural supporters, the Muslim voters, the anti-Modi sentiment within the BJP and complementing its “Chak De!’’ slogan with the call for “Jodo Gujarat’’.

“Besides seeking to divide Hindus and Muslims, Modi has also been trying to sow caste differences,’’ said a prominent state Congress leader.

He added that the Congress is trying to strip the pro-development veneer Modi has given himself by cautioning the electorate against a chief minister who can go “to any extent’’ to win.

The party’s main fears are centred on three issues: the implications of the stand it takes with regard to the seven BJP rebels who want to contest on Congress tickets; whether the overall ticket distribution would be proper; and the damage Mayawati’s BSP can cause by fielding a mix of Dalit, OBC and Brahmin candidates in the 182 constituencies going to the polls on December 11 and 16.

“We have managed to sink our own differences,’’ said a Gujarat Congress leader.

Congress sources said the party’s Central Election Committee is going by the winnability factor, not the ‘sitting-getting’ formula. But in a bid to prevent division of the secular vote, the Congress plans to earmark about 20-odd seats for its allies and BJP rebels.