PM Narendra Modi’s message to his detractors while launching the campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday was loud and clear: People respond to my development agenda and will vote for me in the Assembly polls, just like they did in the Lok Sabha elections early this year.
Living up to the state BJP’s expectations, Modi lashed out at the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leadership with renewed vigour, even as he kept the warning for the former alliance partner Shiv Sena, which had started questioning longevity of his magic, subtle. He hijacked Chhatrapati Shivaji from the Sena successfully and dispelled the notion that the BJP was anti-Marathi. He also wooed the dalit and other backward class (OBC) communities comfortably.
Raising issues such as the city’s truncated economic growth, sub-standard quality of life because of lack of basic infrastructure, he promised solutions that could be delivered only with a government run by his own team in the state.
He indicated the Sena lacked vision to develop the city and the state and dismissed the Congress and NCP as money-making gang of corrupt leaders. Clearing the air over the Gujarat versus Maharashtra issue raked up by the Sena, he said the state was Maharashtra’s younger brother.
In a bid to shed the communal agenda, which his detractors associate him with, Modi said his politics had no place for caste or creed, blaming the communal riots in the state, only second to Uttar Pradesh, on the Congress-led governments.
Cashing in on his successful visits to the US and other countries, which are fresh in public mind, Modi said the Americans, too, have adopted his mantra of ‘sabka saath sabka vikaas’. He underlined the importance of youth power in the country and committed all support to good education, skill development, jobs and opportunity of entrepreneurship. The cheers stood testimony that his idea of changed ‘Bharat’ worked.
With strong homework, Modi managed to appeal to the regions he was addressing. A case in point could be raising the issues faced by the drought-hit farmers and rural youth in Marathwada. According to insiders, Modi’s rallies are likely to impact the results in Marathwada, a region which gave the BJP only 2 seats in the 2009 assembly polls.
For most, Modi has set the agenda for voters, who are likely to be confused in the multi-cornered fights in view of the separation in the two major alliances.