Days after he challenged Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for an open debate on development issues, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Tuesday fired another salvo on Modi’s development agenda.
“The BJP is not confident of getting votes on Modi’s development plank. That’s why it has incorporated its Hindutva (Ram Janmabhoomi issue) in its election manifesto,” Chavan said.
The CM further claimed that the BJP’s delay in releasing the party’s manifesto brought the ideological confusion within its ranks to the fore. “Further, the manifesto was lacklustre and lacked any economic direction,” Chavan said, asserting that Modi’s elevation as the BJP’s PM nominate had “increased personality cult within the BJP”.
“This is the first time when a national party has released its manifesto on the first day of polls. The delay underlines the ideological confusion. In fact, I feel that if Modi were to have his way, he would not have even brought out the party’s manifesto,” Chavan said, adding that “the myth that Modi as PM would transform the country stands exposed”.
The CM, however, acknowledged that business houses had initially supported Modi’s quest for the country’s top job. But, he quickly added, “Many of them are now worried if there would be any room for dialogue in such a government. One gets a sense that Narendra Modi is comfortable with working within a coterie and typifies an autocratic work style.”
Drilling further holes in Modi’s message of development, Chavan said: “During his speeches, Narendra Modi dons the development avatar. On the other hand, his close aide Amit Shah flaunts the Hindutva ideology. There is cloud over what the real Narendra Modi is like. But you get a feel that he would work only within his coterie and typifies an autocratic work style.”
He termed this election as a “clash of two distinct ideologies”. Dismissing any “Modi wave” and a UPA rout in Maharashtra, as projected by pollsters, Chavan said: “At least as far as Maharashtra is concerned, our feedback is that we (the UPA) would better our last time’s performance.”
‘For Sena to decide how much insult in can take’
Besides Modi-bashing, Chavan also tried to further exploit the reported communication gap between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. He said the BJP had a secret understanding with Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for defeating Shiv Sena candidates and making it irrelevant in the next LS polls. “Shiv Sena is the BJP’s oldest ally and this is how it is being treated. It is for the Sena to decide on how much more insult it can take.”
‘Examining Raj Thackeray speech’
Chavan also said he had sought footage of MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s Monday speech in Yavatmal where the latter had reportedly asked farmers “not to commit suicides, but attack those causing distress”. He said: “We will take legal opinion on the content.”
‘Vidarbha state can be considered if practical’
With the Vidarbha region going to polls on April 10, Chavan, who had earlier entirely opposed the demand for a separate Vidarbha state, adopted a softer stand. “It (the demand) can be considered if it is practical,” he said. The NCP, too, in its manifesto has backed formation of smaller states, without naming Vidarbha in particular.