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The Times of India
The Times of India
Kumar Shakti Shekhar | TIMESOFINDIA.COM

Gujarat poll: PM Modi turns election into a personal battle, once again

NEW DELHI: As campaigning for the Gujarat assembly election peaks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to turn it into a personal battle. The development is akin to similar instances in the past when he hit out at the Congress for making personal and unsavoury comments against him and turned the tide in favour of the BJP.

While addressing an election rally at Surendranagar in his home state of Gujarat on Monday, Mod said instead of talking about development during elections, the principal opposition Congress party was saying that it would show him his “aukaat” (status). “However, Modi has no status. He is the servant of the people,” the PM said.

Modi was countering senior Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry who had attacked him recently. After the release of the Congress’s manifesto on November 12 – for the forthcoming Gujarat assembly election to be held in two phases on December 1 and December 5 – Mistry was quoted as saying that the Congress would show Modi his “aukaat”.

“Whatever he (Modi) does, he will not become (India’s first home minister) Sardar Patel,” Mistry, who also hails from Gujarat and was the chairperson of central election authority in the Congress’s presidential poll. Mallikarjun Kharge was elected on October 19 to succeed Sonia Gandhi as the party president.

Modi has replied to Mistry’s comments and sought to gain the sympathy of the voters in Gujarat. The Congress’s personal attacks on him have only helped the BJP in the past.

Continuing his attack on the Congress for the “aukaat” remarks, Modi said, "In the past, the Congress had used words like 'neech aadmi', 'maut ka saudagar' and 'naali ka keeda' for me.”

In the 2007 Gujarat assembly election, then Congress president Sonia Gandhi had called Modi a “maut ka saudagar” (merchant of death). It was in reference to the 2002 Gujarat communal riots. Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister then, linked it to the state’s “asmita” (honour). The BJP won 117 of the 182 assembly seats in that election.

In the last Gujarat assembly election held in 2017, senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar had called him “neech aadmi” (vile man). Modi presented himself as a victim and used Aiyar’s attack to the BJP’s advantage. The ruling party retained office by winning 99 seats.

In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Aiyar had called Modi a “chaiwala” and claimed that he would never become prime minister. Modi turned the tables on the Congress and launched a massive campaign called ‘Chai pe charcha’, helping the BJP to win 282 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats.

Several Congress leaders made personal remarks against Modi during campaigning for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

In one of his election rallies then, the prime minister mentioned all these derogatory remarks made by the Congress leaders against him. They included, “gandi naali ka keeda (worm of a drain)”, “Gangu teli”, “paagal kutta (mad dog)”, “Bhasmasur (devil)”, “virus”, “(absconding terrorist) Dawood Ibrahim”, “Hitler”, “badtameez nalayak beta (ill-mannered useless son)”, “rabies-infected monkey”, “rat”, “lahu purush (blood-sucking man)”, “asatya ka saudagar (merchant of lies)”, “Ravan”, “snake”, “scorpion”, “evil man”, “poison-sowing person” and “maut ka saudagar (merchant of death)”.

The then Congress president Rahul Gandhi had repeatedly said “Chowkidar chor hai (the guard is a thief)” as Modi called himself a “chowkidar”. The BJP ran a ‘Chai pe charcha’ kind of a campaign in 2019 with all the leaders calling themselves “Main bhi chowkidar (I am also a guard)”.

The BJP again got advantage and it improved its tally to 303 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Modi’s present stand against the “aukaat” remark may be another attempt to win the sympathy of the voters and derive political mileage out of the personal attack on him.

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