The secular spots are coming off and the sharp shades of saffron are emerging upfront as chief minister Narendra Modi, the sole mascot of his party, plunges into the heat and grime of electioneering in Gujarat.
That Modi is under pressure as both the Congress and former BJP patriarch Keshubhai Patel's regional outfit, Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) stir the poll pot, is becoming increasingly evident with just nine days to go for the first phase of voting on December 13.
Caught between the devil and the deep sea, the chameleon- like switch is swift. Almost as if to send a signal to the majority community vote bank that the messiah of development still qualifies for the epithet of ‘hindu hriday samrat’.
Even hardcore Modi admirers rue the fact that the BJP candidates list is completely bereft of any Muslim name. "Atleast two Muslim candidates should have been accommodated to consolidate a dent in the Muslim vote bank of the Congress, particularly among the young and the impressionable," points out a senior scribe who makes no bones about his soft corner for Modi. ”He cannot afford to take chances with the hardcore Hindu voter who has not been happy about his attempt to reach out to the Muslims, " counters Suresh Patel of the GPP.
Patel has a point because the GPP headed by Keshubhai Patel is almost like a ‘B’ team of the Sangh Parivar. Patriarch Patel is himself an RSS swayamsevak and Gordhan Jhadapia, its backbone, comes from VHP stock. The Sangh genes run strong through the party and it proudly displays this like a badge of honour. The ‘pradeshik baithak’ of the RSS held in Vadodara some time ago had given out a clear signal that both Modi and Keshubhai belong to us. With almost all Sangh parivar outfits split between the two, the loyalty of the hardcore Hindu voter cannot be taken for granted by Modi any longer. In fact the cadres may get to hear the last word from Nagpur later this week.
Modi actually has no one but himself to blame for this predicament. He earned the ire of the ’ hardcore’ as he endeavoured to change the spots in the pursuit of his Delhi dreams through his three day sadbhavana fast in Ahmedabad September last year. His secular foray, through the plethora of skullcaps gathered with supreme effort, came to nought when he refused to wear one himself while it went to anger those who had stood by him.
With GPP upping the ante and BJP MP Navjyot Siddhu making a faux passé calling Patel, a respected elder, as anti-national and voting for him tantamount to eating cow meat, Modi finds himself in a veritable minefield of his own laying.
This therefore has necessitated a return to roots. Apart from no tickets to Muslims, the manifesto also remains silent on them, except on the modernization of madarsas.
A reminder of the run up to the 2002 Vidhan Sabha elections held in the backdrop of the Godhtra train carnage and the statewide communal violence that followed was the repeated references to "Mian Musharraf" (in this case a euphemism for Muslims) during his acid dripping speeches during his Gujarat gaurav rathyatra.
This time out of the blue Modi has begun targeting Ahmed Patel, political advisor to Congress President Sonia Gandhi who hails from Gujarat. While seeking to foist a conspiracy theory that Congress is planning to make him the chief minister of the state through the backdoor, Modi stressfully names him as Ahmed Mian Patel in his campaign speeches. The entire exercise is aimed at sending a message to his hardcore Hindu votebank that the political leopard has not changed its spots.
Clubbed together with the fact that Modi has not been able to deny a ticket to a single member of his cabinet including over the hill ministers like Vajubhai Vala in Rajkot and Narottam Patel in Surat nor drop a bulk of his sitting legislators to duck anti-incumbency ( he changed 50 per cent last elections), and Modi’s current discomfiture leading to his changing stance becomes all too clear. He has no option but to create a poll decoction that is a mix of communal, caste as well as development in a bid to remain ahead
Twenty Five hours after BJP launched what it called its “commitment charter”, Congress released its manifesto at its office in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
Congress High Command delegated Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for the occasion, who launched a scathing attack on Gujarat Chief Minister taking him on at his self claimed forte of development.
“We don’t need to learn from Modi,” Sheila said adding that it is for Narendra Modi to take a lesson or two from Delhi government as far as development is concerned.
The slew of poll promises woven in Congress manifesto essentially revolved around the common man, the coveted deity of election season.
The poll sops entail tablets for the students who pass standard tenth and laptops for the ones who pass class twelve and interest free education loans. The age for government jobs will be raised to 35 years, 10 lakh jobs for the educated in the state in nexy five years, diesel subsidy for the fishermen, free medical treatment for those with annual income of less than three lakh rupees, opening up the gate of secretariat for everyone implementation of right to education were other promises on the list.
Gujarat Congress President Arjun Modvadia also promised to create a Gujarat for common man, free of the Tatas and the Birlas.
He also said that in the case his party is voted in to power, a special study team will be formed to identify what all the BJP government has robbed the public in Gujarat of.
The Congress manifesto also contained special sops for the drought hit farmers in Saurashtra region. The party had been fanning the discontent among the farmers after a bad monsoon in the state. As it is, BJP too had announced special irrigation schemes for the region.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Mishraji ke hassen sapney..............lets see what gossip he has post 20th Dec 12! the entire article is so one sided even a congress supporter will feel shy to read it! With Narhari Amin gone...Congress must be shitting, but mishraji feels otherwise....lol
When Modi was Pro-Hindutva he was called Fundamentalist, Then his Sadbhawanaa mission it is dubbed as "in pursuit of Delhi Dreams". Now when he has not given tickets to Minority, again it is called as "spots coming off". Similarly earlier the author said, "Modi manifesto, something for all, but nothing specifically for Minority". Now it says, "it has Modernization of madarsaas" in the manifesto. Author can't show anything specific for Hindus, Still he calls Modi as return to hardcore roots. I think the author is confused.
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