Narendra Modi shifts Gujarat Assembly poll fight away from communal rhetoric
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Asked about Modi's style of functioning, often described as autocratic by his detractors, Nanavati said, "If it was so, people would not have stood solidly behind him all these years."
"The masses are with BJP and Modi. Look what happened to Shankar Singh Vaghela after he quit BJP. Keshubhai Patel and his party will meet the same fate," he claimed.
Modi is also facing criticism for his handling of law and order with his right hand man and former minister Amit Shah facing trial for allegedly plotting the cold blooded murder of gangsters Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati. Several other fake encounters are also under judicial scrutiny.
However, Modi who has been successful in warding off any major communal conflagration since the 2002 riots, claims his detractors were spreading canards to stall development.
Close watchers of the election scene also feel lack of clarity on who would become Chief Minister in the "highly improbable" event of Congress coming to power is also working to BJP's advantage.
Apart from Shankar Singh Vaghela, a former BJP Chief Minister, who heads Congress'election campaign committee, state party chief Arjun Modhwadia and leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, besides Congress President Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel are among those being named as possible contenders.
Though Modi largely focused on development agenda during the campaign, attacking the UPA government for neglecting Gujarat, in an apparent reflection of his unease after Keshubhai launched his outfit, he subtly played the communal card when he said though the Congress wanted Ahmed Patel, a Muslim, as its Chief Ministerial candidate, it was fighting shy of announcing his name for the job.
An angry Congress retaliated, saying Modi was trying to stoke communal passions.
"They never had the issue of development in 2002 and 2007 elections. Everyone knows what issues they fought on...In 2012 they do not have any issue on which they can divide the society, or stoke passions, so history repeats itself...they are trying to rake up 'Mia' Patel issue," Vaghela said, rising to Modi's bait.
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