Ravi Shankar Prasad, former minister and BJP’s deputy opposition leader in Rajya Sabha, who oversees the party’s media strategy for the polls, tells HT why his party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi has clicked with BJP cadres and voters alike. Excerpts:
Is the clamour for Modi real as made out to be?
Never since Emergency of 1977 have we seen such a discernible and decisive mood for change. This is directly proportional to the anti-Congress mood among the people terribly upset with UPA.
How has Modi become the symbol for the change?
On his elevation as PM candidate in September, Modi touched every corner of India with his call for ending corruption, bringing real development and good governance. The response he has drawn is unprecedented though Atal Bihari Vajpayee was very popular too.
What is so special about Modi’s campaign?
Modi has conveyed three things by his campaign. One, pedigree does not matter; he was a humble tea-seller who worked his way up by sheer hard work. Two, he showed in Gujarat he can transform a state. Thirdly, he is seen as a decisive leader to deal with issues like poverty and unemployment, and be firm on delivery.
Did the state of economy under the UPA rule actually help in Modi’s rise?
The NDA built a buoyant economy creating 62 million jobs and keeping inflation under 5%. The economy, which P Chidambaram acknowledged was growing at 8.5% in 2003-2004, came to a grinding halt at 4.6%. The UPA squandered the opportunity to consolidate on the gains of the NDA rule.
Is the BJP tempted to raise heat on secularism-communal issues?
The Congress raised communal issues with Sonia Gandhi’s seeking the support of Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, who is known for his fanatic views. But even Muslims are fed up with UPA and want change for their progress and growth, which only the BJP only can provide by good governance.