By Jay P Gupta
The message is clear and loud. BJP leaders including the Prime Minister have not displayed any ambiguity over their Hindutva credentials. It is Gujarat where the former CM and now PM has made the most polarising statements, drawing massive support from the crowd. BJP publicity materials, including use of posters this time hardly conceals its agenda.
The poster has two warring factions; HAJ (Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh) and RAM (Rupani, Amit Shah and Modi). This is self – expalnatory.
This year, Modi brings in “Aurangzeb” as the election closes in; his colleague from Uttar Pradesh has been providing flawed narratives on the Taj Mahal. Sitting in Delhi, some of us may outrage over the brazen bigotry but back in Gujarat, the sentiment has been explicitly conveyed.
For the Gujarati who has been voting for the BJP, or rather Modi, he is the man who emblazoned Gujarati Asmita by giving Gujarat not just the Prime Minister but also the BJP President.
Last months, I spoke to a travel-kit trader in Surat in cinema road locality of the city. He was upset with the Modi regime for hitting at his livelihood. When asked if his anger will reflect in the upcoming poll, he said no,never. If need be, we will sell our belongings to help him win, he said.
To the aspiration Gujarati, Modi may not have offered much since he took over as the Prime Minister. But as the CM, he successfully sold the idea of putting Gujarat on the world map with the much-hyped Vibrant Gujarat summit seeking investments and hosting global investors.
A week-long PR affair worked well for the Gujarati who took pride in being the most advanced state in the country. That most of the MoUs signed at the summit never materialised was another story. But Modi had sold the global dream to the Gujarati youth much like the Madison Square song and dance he sold to the youth across the country.
Congress (would be) President Rahul Gandhi has rightly said that Modi markets himself well. But the truth is Modi was provided with the marketplace wide open, ceded by a lack luster, uninspiring Congress leadership in both Gujarat and in Delhi.
And then Hardik Patel. Yes, he is a much-needed dissenting voice after a long time in the history of Gujarat and Patidar politics. The resentment of the Patidars found a voice in the 24-year-old, but his potential impact on the Gujarat election may have been blunted by the perception created about him.
An alleged sex CD and a video of his alleged secret meeting in a hotel with Rahul Gandhi him being seen as the man who betrayed Gujarat and the Patidar cause for personal gains.
Hardik may still draw crowds but the Modi-Shah duo has stymied his popularity. As for the Congress, six months of hard-core campaigning by Rahul Gandhi will not be enough to undo the perception its leaders have created about the party in the state. The Congress has been comatose for the last 15 years with no semblance of leadership.
A last-minute dash of rallies and Hindutva which involves Rahul Gandhi visiting every possible temple in the state with the declaration that he is a janeu-dhari Brahmin may well be counter-productive.
Modi at 67 has at least another 10 years in active politics, perhaps more. Till such time, Gujarat will be a battle of prestige, the backbone of his success and survival in Delhi. The Modi-Amit Shah duo, who have single-handedly changed the narrative of Gujarat and Delhi, will not let the state slip away so easy. Not for another decade.