By Arvind J Bosmia
With congress electoral strategies formulated in terms of its golden bygone era, the Hinduttva mascot Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is all set to score a massive landslide victory at the coming assembly elections- much bigger than the one he scored in 2002.
This is the most onesided election I have covered in my 28 year long journalistic career where there is no electoral issue except the incumbent Chief Minister himself, who looms larger than life before has been and would be small timers of Congress. When a Tendulkar faces gali-mohalla bowlers a double century is certain.
In Gujarat, Congress's electoral brahmastra was KHAM( Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslims). Major non-Muslim components of KHAM have migrated to BJP under the compulsions created by serial communal riots since 1985. Congress has failed to reclaim them as its aggressive wooing of the Muslims has put the other three off.
In this situation of communal polarization, Modi has managed to build the halo of a Hindu taranhar (savior) around himself further consolidated by highly focused publicity campaigns as Vikas Purush, a leader with a difference.
This special Chemistry with the people has allowed him to get away with riding rough-shod over BJP workers, fellow leaders and other wings of the sangh parivar. Kisan Sangh hostility cannot cause him loss of farming community votes because farmers have prospered under Modi raj. Bajrang Dal and VHP cannot challenge him because he is perceived as Bajrang Dal plus. Other sangh parivar constituents need him for survival but the reverse is not true.
This special bond with the public helped him overcome the boycott resorted to by BJP workers during the last Panchayat, Municipality and Municipal Corporation elections. The refrain was who will get the public to the voting booth if party workers are not around. The voters came on their own initiative, and voted for BJP. Modi through sheer Charisma single-handedly scored land slide victories in all the three.
Modi's direct dialing relationship with his voters will hold in the assembly elections, by-passing the need to depend on the party to deliver the votes. If landslides could be scored in elections where he was indirectly involved, there has to be a bigger response where his leadership is directly on offer.
The party bagged almost two-third of the seats in these elections. So the proportion in the assembly can shoot upto three-fourth and more. This gives him 135-137 seats. But the back-lash against Tehelka sting operation has added another 10 seats. The last minute windfall from Congress came with the maut ka soudagar comments from Sonia Gandhi, Hindu terrorists charge from Digvijay Singh and vainglorious charge from Abhishek Manu Sanghvi to haul Modi before International Court of Justice. This windfall can add 5 more seats guaranteeing BJP a tally of 150-155 seats.
Thanks to the such comments Congress Party is perceived to be a Muslim party by Gujarat voters, with all the damaging consequences thrown in. The comments have petrified the local leaders. The question is why must such suicidal comments be made unless of course a huge electoral loss is foreseen by the party in the Gujarat assembly elections and they chose to hit three kicks of their own to the dying state unit to book profits elsewhere in the country?
None understands the hyper-Muslim phobia of Gujarat voters than Narendra Modi, who with his Sohrabuddin counter comment has launched a well-crafted strategy to create a situation where Gujarat voters will turn up at the voting booths on their own to tell which side they are on? Modi knows it will be his side. The bigger the commotion over the matter, bigger will be the turnout at the booths. If there is penal action by the election commission or there is a criminal case booked against Modi, the backlash will be even bigger.
Peeved Congressmen and BJP dissidents had even alleged that Modi had commissioned the Tehelka sting. But they dare not say that Modi commissioned the Congress trios as well to make comments that doomed Congress Party helped Modi.
The Patel- Thakor castes alienation is more a media hype than a ground reality. Modi's appeal to Hindus cuts across caste lines. Though Modi is an OBC, high caste darbar kshatriyas regards him as their leader. No less than nonagenarian Maharaja of Dhragandhra Meghrajsinhji thinks that Gujarat CM is a true Kshatriya by Karma.
Yet there are some voters who will be overwhelmingly against Modi. They are : 1)Government servants and school teachers; 2) Muslims ; 3) BJP workers who feel that Modi has totally neglected them in power-sharing. The government servants have borne the brunt of Modi's high-geared publicity campaigns while the teachers were punished for habitual absenteeism and poor examination results of their students. Used to lax ways for years, they really detest Modi. 2. Muslims for very obvious reasons do not want him as they view him as the ultimate Shaitan. 3. BJP workers realized that they were no longer treated as members of the ruling party. They could not do influence peddling nor were they appointed as directors in public corporations. Modi was quite happy to use bureaucrats instead.
But ordinary voters who far outnumber these Modi-haters, will overwhelmingly go in favour of Modi.
Arvind J Bosmia is an Ahmedabad based Freelance Journalist