Gujarat elections: ‘Son of the Soil’ Modi gives a personal touch to BJP’s poll campaign
Ahmedabad: With his homeboy image burnished by a visit-a-month over the past year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lent a personal touch to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign for Gujarat elections—one that could come handy in the party’s quest for a fifth straight win.
From unveiling a string of development projects to mass mailing voters ahead of his party’s doorstep campaigns to holding rallies in a bid to persuade fence-sitters, Gujarat elections has the stamp of its most popular leader written all over it.
The four-time Gujarat chief minister even made a personal appeal to voters at a rally on Monday, describing himself as a son of Gujarat and declaring that his home state will not tolerate the Congress’s “baseless allegations against a son of the soil”.
The ruling party recently launched a four-in-one rath campaign centred around Modi to reach out to voters.
“There are four levels. On the top-most part of the chariot a live street play is performed by artists on the theme of development. At the next level, a film on Modi’s public speeches is displayed. Using digital technology, a member of the audience can be a part of the crowd that the PM is addressing,” said Mahesh Kaswala, convenor of BJP Gujarat’s publicity cell.
There’s also a section where a voter can take a 3D selfie with Modi, using virtual reality technology. Five such vans have fanned out to various parts of the state, especially places where Modi is holding campaign rallies.
Ahead of Modi’s visit to Gujarat on Monday, the party also revived its “Chai Pe Charcha” campaign that had become a popular theme for the BJP in the 2014 general elections. On Sunday, the party organised “Mann ki Baat, Chai ke Saath” events at all the 50,128 polling booths in Gujarat’s 182 assembly seats. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, BJP chief Amit Shah, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and several other senior BJP leaders sipped tea with voters while the latest edition of Modi’s Mann ki Baat radio programme played in the background.
The event came in response to a meme mocking Modi over his tea-seller background, tweeted by the Youth Congress.
A letter in Gujarati written personally by Modi was distributed among voters across the state during a six-day “Gujarat Gaurav Maha-Sampark Abhiyan” outreach programme launched by Amit Shah at Naranpura constituency in Ahmedabad earlier this month. The letter asks people to vote for the BJP.
“How was Gujarat 22 years ago? See how it has transformed today! In all these years of BJP rule, your contribution by joining us in the journey of development has not only projected the development image of Gujarat to the country but also to the whole world,” the letter states.
“Let us hail development over casteism, make Gujarat stronger with development instead of communalism and let us empower social justice in the state through development and not dynasty politics. Let us commit ourselves to the poor of the state through development and not nepotism,” it goes on to state.
Chief minister Rupani is among the BJP leaders counting on the Modi factor in the Gujarat elections. “When Modiji was chief minister, we got 115 seats (in 2012). Now he is the prime minister of the country. People of Gujarat will shower more love on him this time. And the support that we are receiving at our rallies across the states clearly indicates that the BJP is heading towards its biggest victory ever,” he told Mint recently.
“Prime Minister Modi’s popularity is intact . Hence, it is quite surprising that he is trying to personalize the election campaign. There is social fragmentation due to caste factors but such an emotional appeal may have a very limited impact in this election,” said Amit Dholakia, professor of political science at Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara.