An election campaign touching new lows

Sushil Kutty/Aditya Aamir

This election season in Gujarat is riveting. Make or break. Shake not stir. Aurangzeb and Aiyer. Church and Temple. Neech & preach. Maa Aur Baap. Agent and double-agent. The crux of it: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if he loses will no longer brag about ‘Gujarat Model’. And Rahul Gandhi if he wins will start his presidential innings with a victory. So the Congress is going all out to win and the BJP is going all out to win. But both cannot win. One party has to lose.
The Congress strategy is to keep the PM riled, question his lineage, ask him who is your mother and who is your father? Call him neech, allude to him as the leech sucking the blood of the Gujarati for 22 long years and refusing to see the writing on the wall, GET OUT!
Then there is ‘that guy Hardik Patel’ gunning for Modi, in the background loud whispers that the young have nothing to do with the BJP because mum and dad have everything to do with Modi.
‘The youth are with the 24-year-old and the 48-year-old,’ a political analyst nobody heard of told a TV news anchor everybody knows about – 24 is Hardik, 48 is Rahul.
TV opinion polls gave Modi the cake. Left-of-centre websites gave Rahul a cakewalk. They wrote Rahul was drawing good crowds. Hardik was pulling upwards of 50,000 but Modi was counting empty chairs. One outlet sent a reporter to a ceramic factory in the hinterland. There the patrakar spoke to a 22-year-old Dalit. “I will vote Congress,’ the first-time to vote told the reporter, who concluded that all those who are poised to vote the first time will vote Congress. Logic!
This election season in Gujarat also saw a sex CD doing the rounds. Those who saw it said it was Hardik. Others who saw it said it was not Hardik. The 24-year-old let it hang. But the other day he quipped ‘BJP is too busy making sex CDs to win’ or words to that effect. Naughty Patel! But nobody in humourless BJP smiled or laughed. Come to think of it Modi has not once taken Hardik’s name. Is it that hard to pronounce? Haar-dik!
Patel is a caste and the Patel caste nurses a grudge. The Patel want reservation in government jobs but the PM is not biting. So, Patidar leader Hardik is angry. He wants the PM to vacate his chair. He has put his eggs in Rahul’s basket hoping that Rahul will not drop it.
The Congress says Rahul will win. ‘Otherwise why have we set his coronation date for immediately after the Gujarat election results date?’ a Congress leader asked, kind of smug on his face. Hope he does not end up with egg on his face.
Outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi skipped campaigning in Gujarat. Or did she? But Rahul was all over the place. His temple visits sparked debate. What is your religion Rahul? BJP asked. His party answered, ‘Janeoudahari’. Nobody asked Rahul to take off his Kurta. In between the Church stepped in asked all to be look out for the nationalists who will sell the country. That was scary. 
While on scary holes nobody kept count of the number of digs Rahul took at Modi and vice a versa, till Mani Shankar Aiyer popped out to teach Mughal history and succession rules to children who had never seen Doon School. He spoke of Shahjahan and Aurangzeb, king and heir and “automatically”. He talked dynasty and Rahul did not mind because that was Rahul’s winning line in Berkeley University.
But when Aiyer went all low in a high Rahul got flak and Rahul dumped Aiyer in the Jhelum. If Republic TV is to believed Aiyer swam to the Pakistani side. Modi slammed Rahul for having a double-agent in his tent. For once in his life, Aiyer failed to do a 007, tied up as he is in his padded room in the Congress Party headquarters on 24 Akbar Road. And you know why?
To fill Aiyer’s void the Congress recruited a Kashmiri Youth Congress leader, formerly a journalist, to keep the PM riled and he has done a passably good job. Not gifted with Aiyer’s silver tongue, this snapper (a fish) named Salman Nizami took to twitter and asked Modi, ‘Who is your mother and who is your father?’
The PM was in Lunawada. The first phase of Gujarat election was on.  “There is a youth Congress leader Salman Nizami who is campaigning for Congress in Gujarat. He wrote on Twitter about Rahulji's father and grandmother. That is okay but he also asked, 'Modi tell me who is your Mother, who is your father?' ANI quoted the PM. We looked at twitter. But Nizami's ‘Who is your mother, who is your father?’ tweet had vanished. When asked who Nizami is, Congress leader and IPL head Rajiv Shukla said he could not be Ram Lal who was not in the BJP!
All in all, a pretty crucifying election campaign with pulls and pushes, taunts and slurs and the Hardik CD. Everybody including the man on the moon is gunning for Narendra Modi, hoping to do a postmortem on the Gujarat Model. Without the Gujarat Model to flaunt, it will be hard to repeat a 2014 in 2019. But you know what there is still the second phase and the counting to be done. And, as the Congress will say, there is always the EVM! (IPA)

Sunday, 17 December, 2017