The way the Congress is targetting Narendra Modi in Gujarat, it is only exposing the party's political and ideological bankruptcy as far as the Gujarat assembly elections (see info here) are concerned. Sonia Gandhi said Modi has only deceived people through false promises. Jyotiraditya Scindia said a miracle was waiting to happen in Gujarat.
Senior leader Sushilkumar Shinde has went one step further. According to him, Modi's political career has got stuck for he hasn't succeeded to move forward from the post of chief minister in the last eight years, while Shinde himself, who was also the chief minister of Maharashtra around that time, has served in various other posts (quite a justification). Ahmed Patel taunted Modi as a sultan and said Gujarat did not need such people.
And then we have the Prime Minister of the country, Manmohan Singh, who said Gujarat must be liberated from divisive politics and those who were practising such politics would not be allowed to come back to power. The other big shot, Rahul Gandhi, has not yet spoken and may be he has something more spectacular to offer.
After the 2002 and 2007 debacle, the Congress is clearly in a disarray as far as the electoral politics of Gujarat is concerned. There is no local face to put up while those in Delhi have no idea on how to deal with Modi's momentum. While Narendra Modi has gradually transformed himself between 2002 and 2012, the Congress is yet to decide whether 'development' or 'communalism' is the actual weapon to defeat the Gujarat Chief Minister.
One had expected Congress taking a mature position this time, but...
Sonia Gandhi has chosen the development plank. For both the times she had tried to corner Modi by playing the communalism card, her party was annihilated. But if anybody had thought that Congress was deliberately making a cautious move this time, Prime Minister Singh made the party look a buffoon when he took on Modi on the question of communalism and minority security.
It was surprising to see that Singh, who has been in power in the Centre for eight years now, just two short of Modi's ten years at the helm in Gujarat, did not do enough homework before deciding to attack the latter. May be because the veteran Congressman is never a mass leader and has little understanding about the ground reality in Gujarat.
PM invited Modi to hit him
Modi was very quick to accept the challenge for it is one which he knows how to handle in the best possible manner. He hit back fiercely at the PM, raising a hoard of other issues related to communal and ethnic conflicts. The Prime Minister, in the first place, should not have joined the party trying to derail Modi and in the process, making itself a laughing stock.
If the Congress is trying to expose Modi by capitalising on the anti-incumbency factor, it must remember that a more powerful anti-incumbency mood has been prevailing against its own government for quite some time now, the recent victory in the FDI debate notwithstanding. It is a tragedy that the party, which had powerful and realist leaders like Indira Gandhi in the past, is busy making a mockery of itself by allowing all and sundry speak out anything against Narendra Modi. The Prime Minister, one is afraid, was no better either.
Congress should talk less, Modi is the man of the moment
The best way for Congress to deal with Narendra Modi at this hour is to talk less, if not completely shutting its mouth. There is no harm in admitting that Modi is a man of the moment and random verbal slaughtering is not going to affect him. It must wait and watch how the anti-Modi forces gain strength during and post this election. The pattern of electoral politics in the state is in favour of BJP and it is also a dominant force at the grassroot institutions, a major indicator of success in democratic politics.
As for the Congress, it has come a long way from the days of KHAM politics and neither it has a local leadership to effect a counter-formula to the Moditva factor. It can not succeed my making development of the poll plank for Modi's Gujarat has little answer from anywhere else in the country in terms of development, whether or not some say that it is an exaggeration. All this leave the Congress in a hopeless situation despite the fact that its vote share in all the elections since 1995 has been consistently around 37% on an average.
Manmohan made one vague point, Modi shot back with three full points
Manmohan Singh's reference to insecurity of minorities in the land of Modi is by far an over-simplified statement. He did not mention which all minorities are actually feeling threatened and the half-hearted effort coated with a sense of soft communalism (the Congress's same old game) was enough to put Modi at the dictating end.
The Gujarat chief minister took up the issues of the Muslim girl who was victimised in the Congress-ruled Maharashtra for posting a Facebook comment and later moved to Gujarat with her family, the conflict in Assam from where Singh is an MP and also that the Parsis in Gujarat are doing better. He also rued that it was sad to see the Prime Minister of a country could not rise above vote-bank politics. If Manmohan had asked a half question, he was given an array of answers. It is futile to try to victimise Modi on the majority-minority question, he will turn into a fierce aggressor in no time. It was proved in 2007.
The Congress might have also hoped that executing Kasab would have earned it some brownie points unlike in 2002, when just before the Gujarat polls, the Congress-PDP government in Kashmir had decided to disband the Special Operations Group and released many militants. Nothing of that sort is visible so far.
If the Congress really wishes to win back Gujarat, it should start working today for a favourable result in 2022, if not in 2017. Unfortunately, it is only wasting its energy.