The sides aren’t evenly matched
In Gujarat, while Modi is taking no chances, the Congress lacks a definite poll agenda.india Updated: Dec 10, 2012 22:53 IST
It is an election which has perhaps set a benchmark for future ones both at the state and central level. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has through clever use of technology ensured that his hologram was able to address crowds at several places at the same time, something that has drawn flak from many and admiration from others. As the poll campaign in the state enters its final phase, it is worth noting that though Mr Modi is in a virtually unassailable position, he seems to be taking no chances, covering as many as seven to eight rallies a day in person, his hologram providing back-up support.
It is significant that in all his speeches, Mr Modi has not really taken on his local Congress opponents. Instead, he has treated them with indifference. He is quick to respond to the statements of central Congress leaders like the prime minister and party president, positioning himself as a national leader. That apart, it is difficult to remember even for a keen watcher who the other main vote-catchers are for the BJP in the state. Mr Modi has been a virtual human dynamo projecting himself as the foremost vote-catcher and star campaigner. The party has not projected any of the national BJP leaders in any significant way given that no one, but no one has the appeal of Mr Modi in the state. The Congress has tried to put up a tough fight by wheeling out its big guns but the fact remains that the management of the party in the state leaves much to be desired. The defection of Narhari Amin, former deputy chief minister and the face of the powerful Patel community, to the BJP was a debacle foretold for the Congress. Yet it did nothing. The Congress has not been able to project a united face or indeed even a credible chief ministerial candidate.
Taking on Mr Modi on the development plank will not yield too many political dividends. The chief minister has come to be synonymous with development in the state though there is no doubt that pockets of extreme deprivation still exist. India Inc, which the Congress has assiduously wooed at the central level, has time and again reiterated its faith in Mr Modi’s policies in Gujarat. It was to Gujarat that the Nano plant migrated after West Bengal let slip the opportunity thanks to negative politics. The Congress has made the error of trying to pick holes in Mr Modi’s policies. It has at no point been able to tell voters what it would bring to the table in the eventuality that it comes to power in the state. Mr Modi has just had to lob the balls back into the Congress’s court, something he has done with ease. Come D-day, it is certain that the canny voter will look beyond Mr Modi’s holograms, but she will equally look at what an agenda-less Congress can deliver.