Mangalore: From Hindutva to development, Modi modifies the script
Pic: Brijesh Garodi
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (NM)
Mangalore, Feb 19: No doubt BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's visit to the city on Tuesday February 18 has become the talk of the town. He had visited the city last year too, just before the state Assembly elections, but there was a marked difference in the Gujarat CM who came then, and the prime ministerial hopeful who came this time.
The difference was not just in the capacity he came in, but also in the level of confidence he exuded, and the narrative of his speech.
The last time he came, Narendra Modi experimented with the Hindutva agenda, but this time he being the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP, chanted the development mantra to woo ‘voters of all religions’ in the city.
Modi who visited Mangalore on May 2, 2013 to campaign for BJP during the state Assembly elections, launched a massive attack on the Congress-led central government for favouring cow slaughter, including the export of beef or meat - which he termed as 'pink revolution'.
However, Modi did modify the script this time – as the Hindutva narrative did not work in favour of the party. In his 48-minute long speech at Nehru Maidan on February 18, Narendra Modi did not dig into Hindutva-related issues.
Earlier, despite Narendra Modi criticizing the central government on issues such as cow slaughter, the campaign failed to yield favourable support for the BJP which ultimately faced a humiliating defeat in the Assembly elections.
Terming the export of beef or meat as 'pink revolution', Modi had claimed that the central government was committing sin by encouraging cow slaughter. In his speech, he had said, "The government gives subsidy to those who open slaughter houses and tax rebates. They give transportation allowance for export of meat. Due to this our cattle are getting killed and our cows are smuggled abroad."
Taking further dig at the government's decision, he added, "Animal population has decreased due to cattle slaughter. They (UPA government) said they will give transport allowance and subsidy in this regard too. Under the Congress regime, cattle smuggling has been taking place in the country. Cattle are being smuggled to Bangladesh and from there to other places, but Congress is silent. Do not allow Congress to enter Karnataka."
However, making no reference to Hindutva this time, he kept his speech around the word development and urged for a Congress-free India. He primarily spoke on issues such as better policies for farmers, development model for the coastal belt, praised the district for the growth in the banking sector, batted for human resource development, global market for fish with technological assistance to Mogaveera community, IT development, tourism and much more.
The larger picture
Nevertheless, the last time he was here, the state BJP was already in doldrums and he knew there was little he could do. The state BJP leadership had given him precious little to boast about, and no matter what he said, it was a fact that people were fed up with the BJP government. He could not draw a rosy picture of the state BJP, and thus resorted to Congress bashing. He knew no one would buy the development cake even with icing on it, for BJP had already dug its grave by then.
This time, though, with Congress at both the centre and the state, Modi had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Knowing fully well that the majority crowd at the venue considered Gujarat as the model state for development, he cashed on it fully and thoroughly. In fact, the Gujarat development model has been his strength all along.
Moreover, the fundamental difference is that last time round elections were about the state, this time its national. He could thus go on targetting the centre without worrying that Yeddyurappa, the prime reason for both the rise and fall of BJP in the state, was seated next to him. In fact, he even made some allowance for the state Congress government saying that it was still new, but did not spare the UPA in any way. He rose above personal attacks, unlike last year when he took the 'Golden Spoon' jibe at Rahul Gandhi, and concentrated mostly on development. He presented himself as a visionary, a person who could lead India from darkness to light. The crowd cheered him on, and buouyed by their enthusiasm, Modi perhaps felt he needed no cheap tricks to win them over.
It remains to be seen if Modi magic in Mangalore will last till May. Going by the current trends and the eerie silent of the district Congress that has not made any comment in public about Modi, it just might.
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