Why I feel Rahul Gandhi is trying to imitate Modi
The Congress vice-president is visiting temples and making his speeches interactive to ensure an election win in Gujarat.
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During his two-week visit to the US Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi surprised everyone by heaping praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's communication skills, saying he is much better than him.
"Narendra Modi has certain skills and is a very good communicator," he said. Two weeks later, Rahul Gandhi kicked off his three-day people's contact programme in the election-bound Gujarat. During this trip, Rahul seems to have taken many lessons from Narendra Modi's style of campaigning. And tried to use it in Prime Minister's own laboratory ie Gujarat.
Let's take a look at some of the campaigning traits of Prime Minister Modi which Rahul Gandhi seems to be using.
Wherever Rahul Gandhi went to Gujarat, he kept interacting with people. While addressing farmers, students and businessman, he did what Modi does in his public addresses. He raises questions which strike a chord with the people and lets people express their frustration.
Rahul repeatedly asked one question during this visit, "Vikas ko kya ho gaya hai (What has happened to development)?" Amid loud cheers, people's response was "Vikas gando thayo chhe (development has gone crazy)." His second question was "Vikas kaise pagal hua, kya hua (How did development go mad, what happened)?" In tune with the public sentiment, he said, "Jhooth bol bol kar vikas pagal ho gaya hai."
In the past, Narendra Modi won elections because he convinced the electorate that he is the true custodian of the Gujarati identity. Now he is out of Gujarat and Rahul is saying Gujarat's government will be by Gujaratis. The Congress vice-president worded his speech carefully to avoid criticism linked to the fact that PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah are both Gujaratis. Suggesting that the current chief minister of the state is just a puppet, Rahul said that Gujarat's government, under his party, would not be run from New Delhi by a "remote control".
Prime Minister Modi often visits temples wherever he goes. Similarly, Rahul began his three day tour of Gujarat with an elaborate prayer at the historical Lord Krishna temple in Dwarka. It's believed in the party that winning Gujarat would be impossible without disengaging Hindus from the BJP.
In the last one year, Rahul has not shied away from embracing Hindu symbols or visiting temples. On the second day of his Gujarat visit, Rahul attended a garba event in Rajkot. On the last day, his trip started with a visit to Chamunda Mataji Temple in Surendranagar district. On his trip, Rahul paid obeisance at five temples and performed aartis at garba venues over three days. It is a subtle attempt by the Congress V-P to counter "anti-Hindu" and "minority appeasers" labels emblazoned on it by the BJP.
Hitting hard at opponents' weak point
By all parameters, Indian economy is in a mess. In the face of the fact that almost all parameters look negative, the government's defence appears cosmetic. Rahul Gandhi too kicked off his campaign in Gujarat by attacking PM Modi over demonetisation, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), unemployment, black money and the poor state of education and healthcare. Narendra Modi made optimum utilisation of the UPA government's tainted track-record on the issue corruption. The Congress V-P too is doing the same on Modi government.
Citing former finance minister Yashwant Sinha's critical remarks against the government over the economy, Rahul accused the Narendra Modi government of ignoring the plight of the masses while extending favours to a select few.
Rich vs poor
Narendra Modi and his government have made a concerted attempt to put on a pro-poor, pro-farmer image. In an attempt to turn the tide, Rahul Gandhi is trying to project the BJP-led NDA as pro-capitalist. In his addresses to the people, Rahul attacked the Gujarat model of development. Hitting hard at Modi government Rahul said that industrialists of this country have not paid back Rs 7 lakh crore which the government has writes off. But when the farmers are not able to pay back the loan, they are called defaulters.
He said, "Modi talks about Make in India. But the entire focus is on 15 people only… When the Congress forms government in Gujarat, the money which is now given to 15 big industrialists will instead be given to you." Interacting with people Rahul said, if Congress government come to power, it will be pro-farmer, pro-poor and pro-youth.
Invoking Patel's legacy
Narendra Modi hasn't just tried to appropriate Sardar Patel's legacy, which belongs to the Congress, but has now almost patented it. Addressing a gathering in Patidar-majority Morbi district Rahul said, "It was your community that gave the country Sardar Patel. He was from here. But the BJP government here gave you bullets when you demanded your rights."
He went on to say, "It is shameful for the Modi government that the statue of Sardar Patel on Narmada river will be Made in China. This entirely exposes the failure of the government's Make in India scheme as you can't even make Sardar Patel's statue in the country."
The BJP termed Rahul Gandhi's attempt to raise such issues as "dramatic and laughable". The ruling party said, the Gujarat visit of Rahul Gandhi will boomerang on the Congress and ensure another victory for the ruling party. Mocking Rahul, BJP leaders said that the
Congress has lost elections wherever Rahul Gandhi had campaigned. After three successive defeats in Gujarat in 2003, 2007 and 2012, the Congress vice-president is aiming to reverse the tide.
A victory in Gujarat for the Congress will be a biggest booster for the decaying party and a defeat could further marginalise it.