Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and Congress Vice President, Rahul Gandhi, left nothing to chance and made the top gear hectic campaign for the Gujarat assembly election but there was a vast and sea change between the content of their speeches. While the former spoke little about development, corruption and performance of the government and spent most of his time levelling baseless charges and canards against Congress, the latter spoke of development in the state and the flaws on the part of the state and central governments. When he was the Chief Minister of the state, Modi passed off Gujarat as the ideal state for good governance and this fabricated statement had impact on the people during the Lok Sabha poll campaign and after making a plethora of fake promises he got absolute majority but now there was nothing to say about the performance of Gujarat government and the Prime Minister had to change his strategy of taking people for a ride. This change of style was necessary because his much hyped skill of oratory was unable to convince the people who were disgruntled, rather disgusted with the Gujarat government misrule and more so with the central government for demonetization and haphazard Goods and Service Tax. The BCs and Patels were also sore for the ‘step-motherly’ treatment towards them. Thus the negative campaign came handy for the Prime Minister and for that he was all roundly condemned.
On the contrary, Rahul Gandhi was straight forward, frank and candid in his addresses to the huge rallies. He promised development of the state which was neglected for a long time. He promised reservations for the Patel community. Prime Minister, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and other BJP leaders objected to it and said beyond 50 per cent reservations were not possible due to the Supreme Court fiat. However, the government of India can recommend under special circumstances to cross the limit. If the Congress comes to power, it would pass the resolution to that effect and send it to the centre. It would be up to the Modi government to okay or negate it. Rahul Gandhi and Patel community leader Hardik Patel addressed crowded rallies and exposed the misrule on the part of the state and central governments. The Congress promised to fulfill the aspirations of the people of the state. Only constructive criticism was done and no baseless allegations were levelled against the BJP. However, questions were asked by Rahul Gandhi but none was answered by the Prime Minister.
The BJP mocked at Rahul Gandhi visiting temples and asked whether he visits the religious places while in Delhi. It was the most condemnable and crude attempt to exploit religion for political campaign. The party is expert in this tactics. When Rahul Gandhi visited the famous Somnath temple, it was alleged that he signed in the register meant for non-Hindus. This viciously levelled charge was promptly denied by the Congress. The Prime Minister said that Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer gave a ‘supari’ for him (to give a contract to a killer to kill someone) while in Pakistan. This was serious charge against the Congress leader. The nation could ask the Prime Minister why this perfidious and seditious charge was not probed and action taken against the Congress leader? Was it reserved and kept secret to be exploited in the campaign? Is it proper and becoming of the Prime Minister to speak of the serious charge which was never revealed previously in election campaign. Then he came with another ‘secret’ that a meeting was arranged at the residence of Mani Shankar Aiyer with Pakistan High Commissioner, Pakistan’s former foreign minister and others and this was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former vice president Hamid Ansari and others, and that this meeting discussed the Gujarat elections. While the participants of the meeting strongly denied any discussion about Gujarat, Manmohan Singh demanded PM Modi to apologise to the nation for ‘canards and falsehood’. He said the accusation was driven by the fear of the PM to face defeat in the Gujarat polls. Former Army Chief Deepak Kapoor who was said to be present in the meeting strongly refuted that the Gujarat elections came into discussion. Then as the last resort, the Prime Minister alleged that Pakistan was meddling in Gujarat elections. He said former Pak Army officer suggested that Ahmed Patel should be made Gujarat chief minister. This charge was refuted by Pakistan and foreign office in Islamabad which said India should stop dragging Pakistan in its electoral debate. Congress also dismissed Modi’s remark on Pak role. All this shows how deeply desperate the BJP is about the result of the Gujarat elections. For the Congress also the election is crucially important but the party behaved in a dignified way.