Gujarat polls: Where is vikas? Are Modi’s speeches only about Rahul, Muslims?

Gandhinagar, Dec 12: Vikas (development) has quietly made a backdoor exit from poll-bound Gujarat. Or is vikas playing hide and seek with the janata of Gujarat?

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Over the years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become synonymous with the word “development” because of his much-touted “Gujarat development model” as the chief minister of the western state for almost 13 years from 2001 to 2014.

In fact, it was the success of the “Gujarat development model” which helped him to become the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and his final elevation as the PM of the country after the saffron party’s massive victory in the parliamentary elections.

Surprisingly, during the whole campaigning process for the Gujarat Assembly elections, the BJP and the PM have maintained a “stoic silence” over the development issue.

While one would believe that vikas is the best trump card for the BJP and Modi to be used during the polls in Gujarat, the opposition alleges that the whole “Gujarat development model” is a farce which only helped rich businessmen to become richer in the state.

The BJP and Modi too in a way proved their critics right by hardly uttering the word vikas during campaigning. The polling for the first phase of Gujarat elections got over on Saturday. The second and final phase of polling is scheduled on Thursday. The results of the elections will be out on December 18.

During the run-up to the state polls, the opposition Congress, which is attempting to unseat the BJP from its fort Gujarat, has accused the saffron party and the PM of communalising politics by raking up Hindu-Muslim issues in multiple poll rallies.

The new Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also accused the PM and the BJP of only talking about the Congress and defaming the Muslim community.

“They say the Congress has disappeared from Gujarat. Why do 50 percent of PM Modi’s speeches are on the Congress? The rest of the speeches are about Modi himself,” Rahul said at a public rally in Gandhinagar on Monday.

The allegation that the PM has brought the Muslim angle in the Gujarat polls has surfaced after the BJP first attacked the Congress for Rahul’s multiple visits to temples in the state since September.

Modi has also criticised the Congress for having “Mughlai mentality” after now suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar called the PM a “neech aadmi” (a lowly man).

The critics of Modi said that by equating the Congress with the Mughal regime, the BJP tried to tell the Hindu voters that the grand old party represents the cause of Muslims only.

However, the final nail in the coffin of the polarised Gujarat elections was when the PM alleged that former PM Manmohan Singh, a former army chief and a former vice-president together have “conspired” with Pakistan to influence the Gujarat polls in a rally on Sunday.

The former PM Singh, issuing a statement against Modi, said that the PM is spreading falsehoods about Pakistan meddling in the Gujarat polls.

“I sincerely hope that Prime Minister will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating his energy solely on erroneously conceived brownie points.

“I sincerely hope that he will apologise to the nation for his ill-thought transgression to restore the dignity of the office he occupies,” stated Singh.

It is not that Modi is not talking about vikas during his campaigning in Gujarat. He did, but mildly, and failed to ring a bell among the masses.

“India is making remarkable strides and the world is realising it. If India is making a mark on the world stage it is due to the 125 crore people of India,” Modi said at a rally in Ahmedabad on Monday.

“Gujarat has two development engines–one here in Gandhinagar and the other in Delhi,” he added.

While talking about vikas, Modi alleged that the Congress was “anti-development”.

“Do you see this Sabarmati river? There were circuses held earlier, now see the riverfront. This is development. But for the Congress, vikas is only where they can make money.”

“We have started a Pragati (development) initiative. Through technology, officers from all over India join and we discuss key policy issues. This has helped accelerate the pace of development,” he added in Ahmedabad.

The reference of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) was there in Modi’s speech too.

“Who is impacted most by unclean surroundings? Not the rich families but the poor. When we work on Swachh Bharat Mission it helps the poor,” said Modi.

Now, the voters of Gujarat will decide whether Modi and the BJP’s ‘smart move’ to stay away from the issue of development is right or wrong.