The Congress is learnt to have chalked out a strategy to beat the anti-incumbency factor weighing heavy on the Congress-NCP alliance in the ensuing Assembly elections — by targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Chief poll managers of the Congress in Maharashtra said a draft had been worked out according to which the talking points for the elections would be essentially centered around anti-Modi sentiments. “Work has been assigned to various groups whose unanimous focus will be to retain the anti-Modi mood throughout 288 constituencies across Maharashtra,” said a leader.
To begin with, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has already set the stage while addressing public rallies as he has been expressing his discontent over the “dictatorial” style of functioning of the NDA government led by Modi.
“It is no secret that Modi has a different style of functioning. He is an authoritarian,” said Chavan.
The primary challenge for the Congress is to negate the impact of the Lok Sabha elections during which the BJP-Sena alliance took a lead in 244 of the 288 Assembly constituencies. The Congress and NCP led in only 44 segments.
Internal assessment within the BJP shows the Modi factor, which consolidated its base in the Assembly seats during Lok Sabha polls, will be retained to a great extent. The state Congress, along with the central leadership, has been working to build a strong campaign in Maharashtra to effectively counter the Modi factor.
A senior leader who is part of the campaign strategy said the chief minister had clearly directed that the campaign should be based on two points — escalate the attack on Modi “to break the myth of ‘acche din’ (good days) ahead”, telling the voters that price rise in the state was also due to the failure of the Centre to take remedial measures; and ask the people whether they would be able to accept Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister.
The sources said the anti-Modi strategy was to deface the Maharashtra BJP, which was aggressively campaigning through collective leadership, albeit under state chief Devendra Fadnavis, while the “Sena CM” attack was a ploy to create a wedge within the alliance as the BJP cadre might not be comfortable with the idea. The Congress believes this will also create confusion among the other four alliance partners — Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Rashtriya Samaj Party, Republican Party of India and Shiv Sangram.
Another reason cited by the Congress for its anti-Modi stance was the decision taken by the BJP to involve him in the state polls. The Congress’s worries stem from the fact that Modi has already held a meeting with state BJP leaders in Mumbai on July 21.
Fadnavis, however, said the anti-incumbency factor was sufficient to pin down the Congress-NCP alliance in the elections.
“They may try their best to deflect their administrative failures with political rhetorics but that will boomerang,” he said.