BJP’s mind games for breakthrough in rural Gujarat
When his soft Hindutva line came under strain after a video of his minister in Delhi denigrating Hindu deities went viral, Kejriwal was forced to sack him.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently claimed the Congress had outsourced its criticism to Urban Naxals in Gujarat, he was alluding to the invectives from Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party. By any yardstick, AAP is the most visible opposition party in the state that is expected to go to polls in barely a couple of months. Despite not much parallel activity on the ground, his party is raising a storm on social media to hog the limelight. When his soft Hindutva line came under strain after a video of his minister in Delhi denigrating Hindu deities went viral, Kejriwal was forced to sack him.
But he stood by his rabble-rousing Gujarat unit chief Gopal Italia, though his statements were highly offensive and misogynist. The BJP has since dug up past tweets of Italia, which called Modi neech (lowly). Remember when Mani Shankar Aiyar first characterised Modi as neech aadmi in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Gujarat in 2017? The latter weaponised and spun it as a Congress pejorative against all lower castes and turned his whole campaign around that one misstep to win a repeat mandate. Modi waits for Congress follies during election time to leverage them, like he did when Sonia Gandhi described him as a maut ka saudagar (merchant of death) while recalling the anti-Muslim pogrom during his watch as chief minister in 2002.
Curiously, Congress has gone completely silent this time around. Since Modi rarely makes loose statements, when he also said the Congress was quietly working in rural Gujarat to garner votes, it appeared intriguing. For, there is little evidence on the ground of the grand old party picking itself up and dusting off though it still holds control in rural areas. With the party’s Walker on a charm offensive far away from the epicentre of electoral jousts and the Congress in the midst of its national presidential polls, the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh units are running around like headless chickens, allowing the AAP
Given the farming community’s disenchantment and the anti-incumbency against the BJP that has been in power for close to 25 years on a trot, whose votes the AAP would eat into is yet uncertain. Modi perhaps wants to nudge the AAP towards rural Gujarat so as to let it nibble Congress votes, thus creating room for the BJP’s breakthrough there.