On the final day of campaigning in poll-bound Rajasthan on Wednesday, the BJP pulled out its top guns like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah–indicating that the party is battling anti-incumbency in the state that goes to polls on December 7.
That the PM himself has addressed around 12 rallies in the past few days to shore up the prospects of BJP attests to the fact. The Congress, on the other hand, relied on its local leaders to campaign in their respective pockets.
If PM Modi’s caste and family and Rahul Gandhi’s ‘dynasty’ and temple visits were the hot topics in Congress and BJP’s respective public rallies in the past, the narrative on Wednesday centred on the arrest of Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland chopper deal.
Making a final push for the BJP on the last day of campaigning, Modi warned that the British national would spill the beans on the deal that cropped up during the UPA government’s tenure. “You must have read in today’s newspapers about VVIP helicopter scam of thousands of crore. You would be aware of a letter of Madam Sonia Gandhi. We kept searching for it and finally found a ‘razdaar’ (one who knows all secrets),” the PM said while addressing a rally in Sumerpur in poll-bound Rajasthan’s Pali district.
Modi said a ‘chaiwala’ was able to do so because the people who voted him to power. “He was a middleman of England, who was living in Dubai. He used to serve the friends of ‘namdaar’ in Dubai. The government has brought him to India. This ‘razdar’ will reveal the secrets. Don’t know where and how far it will go,” he said.
In Dausa too, Modi went all out against the Congress, calling it a confused party with confused leadership. “They don’t know the difference between Kumbharam and Kumbhkaran,” he declared, referring to Rahul Gandhi’s gaffe on Tuesday when he mistakenly referred to the Ashok Gehlot government starting the “Kumbhkaran” lift project instead of saying “Kumbharam” project.
With Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje running into rough weather following farmers agitation, Rajput protests over Anandpal Singh encounter and Padmavaat, ordinance to gag media, lynching and cow vigilantism, the refrain in the air has been “Modi tujh se bair nahin, Vasundhara teri khair nahin“.
For a party that had won 163 out of 200 seats in the 2013 Assembly elections and blanked Congress 25-0 in the Lok Sabha polls, it has lost a string of bypolls to the Grand Old Party in the last couple of years and is facing anti-incumbency due to unemployment and farm distress. For the last two decades, Rajasthan has never re-elected a government twice.
Amit Shah has also been holding road shows and addressing press conferences in Rajasthan. Stressing on BJP’s singular objective of “development”, the BJP chief accused Congress of promoting caste and religion-based politics. “The Congress is not in a position to finalise its chief ministerial candidate. They are working to seek votes by projecting different faces in different districts. Congress has no leader, policy or principles. They have promoted caste and religion-based politics,” he said at a press conference.
While the main contest is between the Congress and BJP in the state, BSP has fielded 190 candidates, the CPI (M) 28 and CPI 16. CM Raje is contesting from her Jhalrapatan constituency, facing BJP veteran Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh who has joined the Congress.
In Tonk, Sachin Pilot and Rajasthan Transport Minister and BJP candidate Yoonus Khan are in the contest. Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot is fighting for Sardarpura seat.
Former Union minister and Congress candidate for the Nathdwara seat C P Joshi had last week triggered a row over a casteist remark against Modi. The PM was quick to raise the issue at his rallies, asking people, “Will you vote on the basis of my caste?” The surgical strike against Pakistan was also an election theme at BJP meetings and Congress also made the Rafale jet deal its focal point while attacking the BJP.
At an interactive session in Udaipur, Gandhi even questioned Modi’s understanding of Hinduism. “What is the essence of Hinduism? What does the Gita say? That knowledge is with everybody… Knowledge is all around you. Every living being has knowledge. Our prime minister says he is a Hindu, but he doesn’t understand (the) foundation of Hinduism. What kind of a Hindu is he?” he asked.