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.
Modi’s 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 more.
In 2007, the BJP got 117 assembly seats out of the total strength of 182. The Congress had got 59 seats.
The second narrative which has gained some ground, if you go by what the bookies in the betting market have revealed in the last 24 hours, is that the extraordinarily high voting – about 71% – in the first phase could help the Congress and former BJP leader Keshubhai Patel’s newly-formed outfit, Gujarat Parivartan Party. According to this narrative, Modi’s development efforts are limited to very urban centres – a la Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh – and haven’t percolated to the rural and tribal areas. Indeed, evidence on the ground does show that there is immense scarcity of water and electricity in rural areas. Keshubhai Patel is exploiting this to the hilt among his Leuva Patel support base in Saurashtra and Kutch. However, the counter-question here is, why couldn’t Keshubhai dent Modi’s votes in Saurashtra in 2007?
Keshubhai, of course, answers that question saying the opposition to Modi was not so widespread in 2007. He claimed Saurashtra is ready to vote against Modi today. Keshubhai also says this time round, RSS workers are not working at all for