Cong is decimated, yet Modi preferring Ram Rajya over Ram Mandir?

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After a short hiatus, Narendra Modi has resumed with the mega rallies for the Lok Sabha elections due in another few months. On Friday, Modi addressed a rally in Varanasi in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Modi's series of rallies in the electorally important state has kept analysts interested on whether he would revive the Ayodhya issue. But he has left the extreme right-wing minds disappointed so far by not uttering any word on it. In Varanasi for instance, he raised the issue of Ram Rajya (signifying prosperity) instead of Ram Mandir (signifying Hindutva). A significant transformation, isn't it?

[I guarantee future of India's youth, Modi says in Varanasi]

Congress has been decimated in Hindi heartland, could Modi take the Hindutva way gradually?

Modi has skillfully made Ram a part of development and well-being instead of a narrow religious icon and this is all the more significant after the decimation of the Congress in the Hindi belt in the recent assembly polls. Modi has successfully led his party to make it 4-0 in the Hindi heartland and even the most loyal supporters of the Congress hope little for its revival in four months time.

And with the collapse of the Congress, there will be a sense of despair among the so-called 'secular' parties at the moment. At this moment, Modi had the least risk if he gradually chose the Hindutva way now but he didn't.

One reason could be Modi's earnest effort to continue building on his moderat image so that he can rightly fit himself into the shoes of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and lead the nation for a long time.

Emergence of AAP a threat for Modi?

But another more interesting reason could be the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) result in the Delhi polls. There is no denying the fact that the AAP has made what was looking a traditional two-way battle more interesting by adding an element of uncrtainty in it. It is true that Arvind Kejriwal and his party are yet to cover some distance before they challenge Modi from a position of strength, but even then the AAP has certainly emerged as a tough competitor for the BJP.

With Modi continuing to stress development, is it the permanent end of Hindutva?

Kejriwal is yet a an untested package in governance, but he is certainly no less than Modi in terms of popular acceptance. For the BJP, which had been thinking till December 4 that the refined and educated urban class would prefer it over the Congress for some considerable time, it would have to think everything afresh.

If Modi is now trying to reach out the farmers, tea vendors and sari industry workers and raking up sentiments involved with the Ganga river and speak on the well-being of the youth as he did in a village in Varanasi today, there is a method in it. For facing a tough competition from the AAP which also has a strong base among the youth, the BJP now has to discover more probable vote-banks for itself.

This could actually make the battle between the major parties like the Congress and BJP more intense and interesting. The Congress had been wooing the rural classes to mak up for the urban votes flying away to the Modi camp but with Kejriwal challenging the urban vote-bank and the BJP eyeing for an alternative, the Congress would also feel the heat.

It would be interesting to see how Modi changes his pre-poll script after the emergence of the AAP. In terms of popularity, the Shehzada looks a distant third at the moment while Kejriwal is more at par with Modi. Will Modi still aim the second-best for his party's interest?

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