The Congress on Monday dubbed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day fast for ‘sadbhavna’ as mere posturing and said it was a ploy to “counter the fatigue factor” that has set in after two terms in office.
Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury categorically said Modi’s call for communal harmony rang hollow and Modi was infact preparing for the Gujarat Assembly polls in December 2012. The “fast is a farce” to counter the anti- incumbency factor that has obviously set in, said Chowdhury.
Chowdhury said Modi’s ‘drama’ was a well orchestrated affair and with tongue firmly in cheek described it as a “new weight loss programme”.
While BJP’s senior functionaries and NDA leaders (with the exception of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar) lined up to meet the fasting Gujarat CM; Congress leaders stayed away from the protest fast organised by state Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela. Responding to this Chowdhury said: “The BJP needs an issue like the fast to flock together, with the Congress it is not so.”
Pointing out to a “clear divide within the NDA, between the pro-Modi and anti-Modi factions” Chowdhury said issues like the spectacle of the fast was needed to get the BJP together.
Senior Congress leaders were also of the view that the fast was organised by Modi with a three-pronged motive. Timed right after the Supreme Court ruling, it intended to cash in on the alleged clean chit given to him by the apex court in the 2002 Gujarat riots case. Secondly, Modi’s objective was aimed to build up for the Assembly polls.
“Whatever be Modi’s achievements, the reputation that has been dogging him is of not being secular, so he is trying to evade such issues and anti-incumbency; hence the fast,” added the Congress functionary.
The fast has undoubtedly helped in projecting Modi as the prime ministerial candidate for 2014. “This was obviously another aim of his fast; to project himself as a prime ministerial candidate.”
Congress leaders however scoffed at this attempt saying: “Everybody in the BJP, from Modi, Advani to Nitish Kumar wants to be the prime minister.” Instead the Congress has questioned as to who would be the chief ministerial candidate if Modi is aiming at being the prime minister.
Labelling it as a “pipe dream” Chowdhury rubbished the possibility of the prime ministerial race being a Modi versus Rahul Gandhi contest. “It’s ridiculous. Rahul Gandhi is better qualified than Modi; he’s also a member of Parliament, which Modi is not.”
With Modi calling the shots and the war within the BJP for being a prime ministerial candidate allegedly gathering steam; the Congress has decide to adopt a wait and watch policy to see how it plays out.