Vaghela attacks Modi; hints poll pact with BJP rebels

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New Delhi, Sep 20 (UNI) Senior Congress leader and Union Textiles Minister Shanker Sinh Vaghela today apprehended that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi might ''play communal card to engineer polarisation of votes'' in the coming assembly elections to enhance the BJP's prospects.

Mr Vaghela, however, asserted that the Congress would foil any such 'misadventure' and would even strike a poll pact with the BJP rebels with whom the party had already started sharing public platforms ahead of the polls.

''The Congress would be happy to accommodate the BJP rebels within the party fold. As of now, we have been sharing only election platforms with them. Once we get feelers on a seat-sharing arrangement, we will be keen to do so.'' He said Mr Modi's attempt to market himself by parading the economic prosperity before the electorate in the state had become a flop show, and it might compel him ''to play dirty tricks'' ahead of the crucial polls, to be held before the year-end.

In support of his contention, he recalled communal riots after the Godhra train blaze and the government's alleged partisan role in quelling the riots before the 2002 assembly polls.

''Going by his past track record, there is every likelihood that he may resort to communal games to deflect attention from his popularity on the downside and the growing dissension within the BJP against his leadership,'' he said.

Mr Vaghela, who was in Gujarat earlier this week to address a string of election rallies, said the tall claims of Mr Modi that he had transformed the economy of the state were a ''blatant exercise in marketing gimmick.'' He said the state government has launched a TV channel, Gujarat Today, with a Rs two-crore budget, to trumpet his achievements.

Lending a rather acerbic tone to his accusations, Mr Vaghela also said that in the previous edition of the Global Investors Summit, the state government claimed that it had signed MoUs worth Rs 10 lakh crore, but only 12 per cent of the amount had been operationalised.

The state government had promised to double power generation from the existing level of 7500 MW in five years, but only 375 MW could be added during the period, he pointed out.

''All these facts are official. I am sure the Gujarat electorate would see through the bluff and bluster of Mr Modi's claims,'' he said, asserting that the 'Modi phenomenon' had started losing its magic.

Mr Vaghela, however, conceded that both the Congress and the BJP have 50:50 chances in the elections.

He said 'winnability' would be the sole criterion in fielding party candidates in the polls, which implied that not all sitting MLAs would be automatically fielded.

He also asserted that the BJP would not be able to extract any ''political mileage'' out of the Ramsethu controversy, pointing out that the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project (SSCP) was conceived by the NDA government itself.


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