Assembly polls: Narendra Modi’s Article 370 vs Rahul Gandhi’s Rafale barbs

Mumbai, Oct 14, 2019-

As Rahul Gandhi returns to India and kickstarts his belated campaign trail on Sunday for Assembly elections scheduled just seven days away, BJP is almost done with its campaign with it’s star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking over.

In this seemingly unequal battle, while the BJP is banking big on its tried and tested formula of hyper nationalism, Congress has once again gone back to the “corruption in Rafale deal” narrative that boomeranged few months ago in the general election for the party.

On Monday, BJP President Amit Shah, who has been so far touring Maharashtra, has three back to back rallies in Haryana. He will address public meetings at Tohanna, Ellenabad and Narnaund areas of the northern state.

Meanwhile, BJP’s new working president J.P. Nadda who released the party manifesto for Haryana polls on Sunday in Chandigarh will be in Maharshtra on Monday where he will address two public meetings. Nadda will address rallies at Sahada and Sinkheda of Maharashtra.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh who upped the ante on Pakistan and highlighted the importance of Rafale in Haryana on Sunday too will be on a campaign trail for the party on Monday in Maharashtra.

Singh will address three rallies throughout the day in both urban and rural constituencies of Goregaon, Mira Bhayandar and Charkop. Ever since his return from France and the high decibel optics of ‘shastra pujan’ of Rafale aircraft there, Singh has been riding high on overt nationalism and preparedness of the defence forces, during his campaigning.

Shah who was in Maharashtra on Sunday addressed three rallies in Kojhlapur, Satara and Aurangabad before visiting visiting the famous Mahalaxmi Temple in Kohlapur. He also held a road show in Pune. Prime Minister Modi too held back to back three rallies in the state and dared the opposition to bring back Article 370, something that was abrogated by India on August 5.

Staying with the nationalist approach and raising state icons like Chhatrapati Shivaji, Modi on Sunday said in Jalgaon, “From the holy land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, I am challenging the opposition – make your stand clear and announce whether you support the government’s decision to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A or not.”

This thundering from Jalgaon in north Maharashtra has been the overall strategy to fight Assembly elections of the two states on the nationalism plank.

Contrastingly, Congress started its campaign late and Rahul Gandhi who drew criticism for his sudden foreign escapade could only join the campaign on Sunday, just eight days before the two states go to polls. Once again, the former party President raised the Rafale deal, suggesting there was corruption. Interestingly, its the same plank with which Congress went ballistic in 2019 general election, hoping for a favourable tilt towards it.

But it badly backfired on the grand old party as BJP came back with 303 seats, a bigger mandate than of 2014, when Modi came to the Centre for the first time.

While, the Congress harped on contemporary issues but the mood of the electorate appears to be swayed in the emotions of hyper nationalism which the BJP has tapped with finesse. “You go anywhere in the country… People only talk about joblessness, farmland crises, the economy… Where are the promised ‘acchhe din’? They have not come”, said Gandhi on Sunday in Latur but barely managed to draw claps.

As an energetic Modi thundered in Jalgaon over Kashmir and a seemingly calm Rahul tried to reach back to the Rafale narrative in Chandivali constituency of Mumbai, the one that touched en emotional chord with the electorate was apparent.  (Agency)

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