As the first day of polling for the 2014 Lok Sabha approached, the two bitter rivals in the race - the BJP and the Congress - descended into a slanging match on Friday.
The BJP released what it called a “chargesheet” against the UPA-II Government, and the Congress retaliated by terming the charges “a bag of lies”. Instead of responding to accusations that the UPA’s dual-power structure devalued the Prime Minister’s Office, the Congress made most of the fact that the BJP was yet to come out with its election manifesto, three days ahead of the first phase of polling on April 7.
“The absence of a manifesto reflects not just a lack of leadership but also indicates that the BJP is a party without a clear-cut programme,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. He in turn accused the BJP of mounting a “vision-less and agenda-less negative campaign” which was mostly about “throwing barbs at the opponents”.
Even adopting a rather condescending tone, Surjewala said the BJP was going to the electorate on the name of one man, Narendra Modi, “who foisted himself on the party” and contrary to the pledge of coming out with Vision document that would underline the good governance claim, “they are devoid of ideas-construction agenda”. Otherwise overtaken by the BJP’s meticulously planned campaign, the Congress for a change had something in hand to fight back with and cover the underlying unease in the party.
The BJP on its part said the delay in the release of the manifesto was not due to any internal strife but “logistical” issues. But that the saffron party had to get its senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi, chairman of the manifesto committee, to issue a statement saying there were no differences between him and Modi underscored the unease in the party.