speech, he devotes some 20 minutes to a contentious foreign policy issue ó how Sir Creek, a 9,000-sq km marshy water body with oil and gas resources on the border of Kutch and Sindh ó is to be divided between India and Pakistan. Modiís unusually long discourse on Sir Creek and his accusation that the Centre may be bartering Indiaís interests away to Pakistan partly reveal how he is converting an Assembly election into a platform for a future national election. Indeed, Modi does this very cleverly by employing his new political vocabulary of nationalism based on some of the bitter memories of the average urban Gujarati with neighbouring Pakistan. He invokes the humiliation faced by the Gujaratis at the hands of Pakistan when a private plane flying state chief minister Balwantrai Mehta was shot down by the Pakistani air force, killing the CM. Mind you, Modi is doing all this when a high-level official delegation from Pakistan is in New Delhi to discuss very delicate issues. Modi is actually talking to Delhi, though nominally he is addressing small crowds of Gujarati voters.
Modiís electoral strength is derived from the urban Gujarati voter who seems to be eating out of his hands. And nearly 55% of Gujarat is urban, unlike the national average of 30% urban population. This is precisely what Modi is banking on to give BJP another term in the state. The only debate at the popular level in Gujarat is whether Modi will get 15 seats less or