Gujarat election 2017: That Narendra Modi is a master politician who can turn almost anything to his advantage with his words is known to all. But the opposition seems to not yet have understood this Modi’s special ability. Be it the ‘Chaiwala’ jibe from Congress leader Manishankar Aiyar in 2014 or ‘Gujarat Ke Gadhdhe’ taunt by Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav during 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Modi had turned all swipes against him to his advantage with the help of his oratory. It appears that the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections will also won’t be any different. And surprisingly, Congress is giving him a strategic advantage which the former could have avoided, at least when the party is trying hard to make a comeback to power after 22 years in the state.
On Tuesday, senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, while representing the Sunni Waqf Board in the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute case in the Supreme Court, urged the court to postpone the hearing until 2019 General Elections as it could have political repercussions. Sibal is not just a lawyer but also a very senior Congress leader and former Union HRD Minister. Any statement by him on this sensitive issue, at a time when all parties involved in the case want a speedy resolution of the case, was bound to be read politically by analysts as well as parties opposed to him. On Wednesday, the Waqf Board also disowned Sibal’s submission to the top court, saying the what the Congress leader said was wrong and they are also in favour of a time-bound resolution. PM Modi used this to his advantage and hogged the limelight.
At a rally in Gujarat on Wednesday, Modi said, “There is a Congress leader, Shri Kapil Sibal. He was arguing on the Ram Temple issue, which he is entitled to do. But, he said in Court to hear the case after 2019. Why is he mixing Ram Temple and elections? The Sunni Waqf Board has stated today that yes, Kapil Sibal may be our lawyer but what he said in the court is absolutely wrong. They too want a time-bound solution to the matter. Everyone wants a time-bound solution except Congress and their leaders. The Sunni Waqf Board must be congratulated for their brave stand on the matter and disassociating themselves from the statement of Shri Kapil Sibal.”
Two days ago, Modi used Congress leader Manishankar Aiyar’s remark on Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as Congress president to his advantage. Some claimed that Modi picked only a part of Aiyar’s comment but then this is what one can expect from a shrewd politician. And Modi is not alone in this, all parties are equal culprits. At a rally in Gujarat, Modi said, “Mani Shankar Aiyar, who never shies away from showing loyalty to one family, proudly said when Shahjahan came in place of Jahangir then was there any election? Was there an election when Aurangzeb came in place of Shahjahan? It was already known that only the child of the king will occupy the seat of power.”
“I congratulate the Congress on their ‘Aurangzeb Raj.’ For us, the wellbeing of the people matters and 125 crore Indians are our high command,” he added.
Last month Congress youth magazine ‘Yuva Desh’ circulated a meme, reminding Modi of his past as a tea seller. The meme not only created an outrage in BJP camp but also forced the Congress to apologize and remove it from Twitter. Modi used the meme episode in some other rally recently, saying, “I will sell tea but not the country.”