With barely 10 days left for the Assembly elections in Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched his blitzkrieg to woo the voters in his inimitable style.
Having achieved results in his campaign wherever he unleashes his barbed rhetoric, Modi’s rallies are expected to give the BJP a boost in a state where the incumbent party, the Congress, is ahead of the BJP in opinion polls, albeit marginally with the Janata Dal-Secular supposedly holding the trump card as a ‘third force’ in an expectedly ‘hung’ assembly.
Modi is expected to address at least 15 rallies across the state in five days of intensive campaigning, taking the war against his rivals to breach their bastions.
The Indian Express put it aptly when Modi was fighting a do or die battle before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in 2014 to wrest power from the Congress: “Narendra Modi rallies have, in recent times, gone on to become full-fledged stage productions involving light, sound, carefully chosen music, stage design and sky cameras — all intended to enhance viewer experience and build the Modi brand.”
Add to that Modi’s penchant for using social networking sites which his rivals now have learnt to match and Modi comes off as a formidable campaigner with his breathtaking oratorical style that establishes a fine rapport with his audiences.
A few months ago, Modi gave a taste of his winning ways to the Congress in Gujarat when he jumped into intensive campaigning in the last phase to turn the tables on a confident, resurging Congress party that was fast building on the anti-insurgency sentiment.
Modi’s barbs on Sonia Gandhi and Rahul breathed life into the lacklustre BJP campaign.
Now, the challenge is in a state in which a Congress government is seemingly well-entrenched with a chief minister who is combative and prone to exploit parochial sentiment to the hilt.
Siddaramaiah is no lightweight. He is familiar with the pulse of the people and is no stickler for morality and propriety. BJP chief ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa, however, has a corruption taint which refuses to go. After a stint of chief ministership, he had been jailed for a few months by a Lok Ayukta court for corruption from which he was later cleared by the high court.
Yeddyurappa’s saving grace is that the Siddaramaiah government is no paragon of virtue. It is characterised by maladministration and corruption during its rule and its record of development has been lacklustre.
Modi is indeed having difficulty carrying through the corruption plank because of Yeddyurappa’s dubious credentials on that front.
Consequently, Modi’s rhetoric is centred on what the Central government has done through its schemes for the common man, including electrification of all villages, landmarks in banking finance for rural and urban poor the prime minister’s pet schemes to spur development.
On a different plane, the poor law and order in Bengaluru and in the rest of Karnataka have come in for sharp attack from Modi. He said in his first Karnataka rally that while his government is working on ‘ease of doing business’ the Siddaramaiah government is into ‘ease of doing murders.’
He takes digs at Rahul, challenging him to speak for 15 minutes on the state’s achievements without a paper to read from in any language and does not spare Sonia too in his broadsides.
Largely, Modi is not vicious in his attacks on Kumaraswamy of the JD-S, conscious that the BJP could need his party’s support in the event of a ‘hung’ assembly: PM Modi