By Arun Srivastava
Spectre of the BJP losing power in Gujarat has made Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the strongman of Indian politics uneasy. Little doubt this baffling transformation was conjured by the success of Bharat Jodo Yatra. Only a couple of days back he was looking at Rahul’s Yatra sitting on the side line, but from Monday he has adopted an aggressive posture. But the most interesting feature of his bellicose is his playing the victim card. .The big response by people at Rahul’s first campaign meeting in the state on Moday has unnerved the state BJP leadership.
The Strong Man of the Indian politics Narendra Modi would eventually play the victim card has been a known fact. His unleashing acerbic attack on AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal would lose its momentum just before the D-day was not an unknown fact. It is really intriguing how his lieutenant and Chanakya Amit Shah could not comprehend the course of the campaign and peoples’ mood.
This change of gear makes it explicit that Modi is feeling uncertain about retaining power in Gujarat.. Else there was no reason for him to play the victim card. Earlier he played the victim card in the wake of Mani Shankar Aiyer hurling the jibe of neech on him. This time he is trying to exploit the remark by the Congress leader Madhusudan Mistri “Modi ko uski aukat dikha denge” (Will show Modi his place) while releasing the party’s Gujarat manifesto.
Technically this is not at all a derogatory remark. But Modi has seized it and trying to project it as a sneer to ridicule him. This is manifestation of his desperation to salvage the situation and win the assembly election anyhow to protect his crown.
Modi has gained mastery in playing theatrics and arousing the emotion of the common man. This time he has attached this to the asmita (pride) of a common Gujarati. He knows this will arouse the regional feeling and also help him restore his image of a person being from the modest and poor family. In the earlier elections his tactics to present him as a person from the poor family and backward caste helped him win the elections but whether it will bail him out is a million dollar question.
Though Mistri had said “Modi ko uski aukat dikha denge” he attributed these words to Congress and in an overt manner to the Gandhis. Else he would not have said; “You all (Congress leaders) are from royal families but I am a sevak (one who serves). I have no aukat (status). Sevaks have no aukat”. Modi with folded hands referred to the Congress as “maibaap” (masters). He also described as manifestation of “ahankar (arrogance)” of Congress. Why should Mistri show his “ahankar”?
It is an open secret that Nehru Gandhi family has been the target of Modi. He never misses any opportunity to hurl vitriolic on them. In his arrogance he never thought of having a feedback of what people of the country think of him and how do they perceive his jibes against the Nehru Gandhi family. The immense response which the Bharat Jodo Yatra has been receiving makes it explicit that his diatribes have failed to have any impact on the common people.
Before this incident Modi had attacked Rahul Gandhi of damaging the Gujarati prestige. Addressing an election rally in Surendranagar, Modi had criticised Rahul Gandhi for marching with Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar during his Bharat Jodo Yatra. Medha was certainly not the first anti Modi activist who participated in the Yatra. Many others have flown to South India to participate in the March. But he is cut up with Medha and treats her as number one enemy since she has been consistently opposing construction of the dam on Narmada. It is beyond comprehension how could her action could be construed as antagonistic to the Gujarati self pride and interest?
Yet another sudden change of tactics which was noticed during his recent campaign is his thrust on development. The agenda of development and growth never find their place on the electoral compulsions of Modi. He exploited Hindu-Muslim relations and now he has been projecting the rich and poor element. In between he raises the issue of progress and growth. In fact the success of Yatra and Rahul’ consistent thrust on unemployment, poor economy and safety of women have motivated the people to discuss these issues in public debates. In spite of his earnest desire Modi finds it tough to put these topics on back burners. He is forced to confront these. Which is why he has adopted the formula to present it as counter strategy. He even accused the Congress of not daring to debate development because of the BJP’s sterling performance, and so was engaging in personal attacks.
If the sources are to be relied the state has never seen such a massive gathering at any of the election meetings in recent years. People are hooked to his Yatra. They also say Rahul is a leader of a great humanitarian mission that is dedicated to uniting India. In a way they endorse the Congress allegation that Modi has been pursuing divisive politics. Rahul’s deep involvement with the Bharat Jodo Yatra was on display as he spent most of his time recalling how his conversations with farmers and the youth, small businessmen and social activists had brought out the pervasive distress and pain in the country.
Rahul’s revelation; “The note-bandi, the flawed GST and the unplanned lockdowns during the Covid pandemic were weapons for an attack on the small and medium industries and traders to clear the path for a takeover by big industrialists,” is widely acclaimed. Modi’s recent attacks on Rahul underlines that he has come to realise that to win the election, he would have to counter hard facts and ground realities with emotive issues.
Expose by Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, a Gujarati, has further put Modi in an embarrassing situation. Tushar who had walked with Rahul said; “Narendra Modi hides the slums with cloth to avoid the ugly sight. Rahul embraces the poor. The true leader has the capacity to feel the pain of the poor…. Bapu felt the pain of the poor. I saw the same while walking with Rahul Gandhi today. I never imagined I will have this experience in my lifetime.” (IPA Service)