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In Gujarat Hindu Set To Replace Vikas

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By Sidharth Mishra

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the home state of Gujarat definitely underlined the fact that he is rattled by poor state of economy and administration. Not that I seek to write a treatise on how BJP could lose in Gujarat in the upcoming assembly polls, on the contrary the Prime Minister’s personal push could actually see his party pass the finishing line ahead of the Congress for the fifth time in the row. But then as mentioned, it has to be Narendra Modi’s personal push which would see the party through as the present BJP chief minister Vijay Rupani emerges almost as a non-entity in the Google search. Its important for the Prime Minister to win Gujarat to retain his stranglehold over the party as next year states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan go to polls, where the reigning chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje have been leaders in their own right much before Modi rose on the national stage.

If Modi faces a debacle in Gujarat, and the triumvirate named above emerge victoriuous in their pocket boroughs, the inner dynamics of the Bharatiya Janata Party would change ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls. This is something Narendra Modi can ill afford and he would leave nothing to chance. Thus the plan to pitch-in his chosen BJP chief ministers – Devendra Fadnavis (Maharashtra), Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), Trivendra Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand) and Raghubar Das (Jharkhand), to push the campaign full throttle ahead.
These four leaders as chief ministers today may be at the command of unfathomable resources to add steam to the campaign but their ability to be projected as ambassadors of good governance is just negligible. It would be inetersting to take a quick look at the image the four have come to command in their respective states.
Devendra Fadnavis: He was selected by Narendra Modi for the job at Mantralaya in Mumbai ahead of the claims of party veteran Nitin Gadkari for obvious reasons of not allowing rise of a powerful regional leader. Fadnavis has so far failed to make his mark as an administrator and additionally has now got the dubious distinction of leading Maharashtra from a power-surplus state to a power-cut state, a fallout of the alleged moves to help Adani.
Yogi Adityanath: The monk of Gorakhpur math was chosen to lead nation’s most populous state to push ahead the Hinduvta agenda though Yogi has at times attempted to project himself as a tough administrator. Though in power for just about six-months, Yogi has only managed to stregthen his image of Hinduvta votary so far and was yet to make mark on development front. The Gorakhpur and Taj Mahal controversies has only helped to strength this image. 
Trivendra Singh Rawat: Again a political lightweight, he had lost two consecutive assembly polls, Rawat was pitchforked in Chief Minister’s office in Dehradun irnoring the claims of some of the time-tested administrators. So poor has been his administration that he has won the sobriquet of Dhilendra (some body who is very casual in approach). The poor state of roads and more poorly managed traffic during the annual Char Dham Yatra speak for the poor state of administration in Uttarkhand.
Raghubar Das: Jharkhand Chief Minister was fortunate enough to make to the seat of Chief Minister as his main rival and a much stronger claimant to the chair, tribal leader Arjun Munda faced a shocking defeat on his home turf. The news emerging from Jharkhand,whether its the cops chasing people defecating in the open or a child dying of hunger as her ration card was not attached to Aadhar card, makes one recall the way 20-point programme of Sanjay Gandhi was implemented during the emergency.
Somewhere Prime Minister Narendra Modi too realises that pitching the foursome as mascot of development could prove to be counter-productive. No wonder while addressing Gujarat Gaurav Sammelan in Gandhinagar on last Monday, Modi remained focussed on the work done by the BJP (read during his tenure as chief minister)  in the state of Gujarat alone. 
Countering the social media campaign of "Vikas Pagal Ho Gaya Hain" (development has gone bonkers), Prime Minister chose to go hammer and tongs on the issue of development and Congress's alleged negative approach towards progress of Gujarat. He even played on Gujarati psyche and sentiments claiming that the Congress always insulted and ignored Gujarat and Gujaratis. 
Modi said that the Congress which gave so many leaders to the nation now focus only on spreading lies and creating an atmosphere of pessimism, which was in an obvious reference to the social media campaign. He even extolled BJP workers to not be demoralised by the campaign.
Development is something on which Prime Minister rode to power in 2014. Development is something about which he talked about at the beginning of both the 2007 and 2012 assembly poll campaigns in Gujarat. But subsequently, the narrative on both the occasions turned towards communal polarisation. Communal divide helps BJP no-end, something which has been proven time and again.
Thus upcoming polls in Gujarat would see Modi being the lead singer of BJP campaign with Hinduvta votaries like Yogi Adityanath making up the orchestra. There would be cameo performances thrown in by likes of UP legislator Sangeet Som and to mobilise workers support the Kerala campaign would be kept going. This would also help to keep the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh onboard.
Thus the Bharatiya Janata Party plan for Gujarat is for all to see. Vikas is set to slowly vanish from the narrative and Hinduvta all ready to occupy the vacant space and dominate the storyline. 
(Sidharth Mishra is Editor, First published in DB Post, Bhopal )

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