“Hang me if I am guilty“. Honest outburst or planned theatrics? The answer to this question probably depends on which side of the political divide you are. But what can’t be denied is the fact that Narendra Modi finally agreed to take some tough questions perhaps to placate the doubts of the few undecided voters left. In a free-wheeling interview to a news agency Modi spoke about plethora of issues including sensitive topics like riots, Snoopgate, skullcap and possible relationship with America. BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi completely denied the charge about maintaining stoic silence over Gujarat riots in 2002. He stressed upon the fact that although he gave interviews regarding 2002 to top editors, there was no effort in their part to understand the truth. Modi expressed confidence that NDA will get majority and Congress will slump to its all-time low.
In the interview, Gujarat CM came in the defence of his trusted aide Amit Shah. About Snoopgate, Modi gave a different twist saying nobody should politicise issues regarding violence against woman. He was quick to point out that he maintained silence during the post Nirbhaya outrage. He said that Amercia’s refusal to grant him visa will have no impact in foreign policy.
Modi also refuted the charge that media will be censured in his regime saying that his track record doesn’t say so. On the cusp of becoming PM, Modi seems to be trying to adopt a conciliatory tone towards other parties. He said that in politics, opponents are not enemies. Modi said that he has good terms with Sharad Pawar, Jayalalitha, and even some members of Congress. He categorically denied possibility of launching a witch hunt against the likes of Robert Vadra. He rejected the charge of polarization in Varanasi, saying that once he starts campaigning there – the Muslims of the city will love him.
The fact that AAP may do poorly in this general elections seems to be finally dawning on Modi’s principal opponent from Varanasi, Arvind Kejriwal. For the first time he has acknowledged that the decision to resign from power in Delhi was incorrect and done in haste. Kejriwal feels they should have consulted people before quitting power. He concedes the fact that a communication problem has occurred with the common mass. Incidentally, posters terming Kejriwal as bhagoda (escapist) have come up in Varanasi. The AAP chief though believes that these posters are the handiwork of BJP. Kejriwal is convinced that he made a sacrifice by quitting on the ground of principle and hoped the public would praise them. But reality turned out starkly different.
It seems like there is no end to Kejriwal’s woes. A local court in Kutch district of Gujarat on Wednesday issued a notice to him. He has been asked to appear within ten days for alleged breach of model code of conduct during his ‘fact finding’ tour last month. The former Delhi Chief Minister had addressed a public gathering using a loudspeaker at Kutch district without prior permission. Subsequently, a FIR was lodged against him and 5 other party workers for breaching the code of conduct.
Kapil Sibal too wants FIR to be lodged but against the BJP leader, Subramanian Swamy. Swamy made allegations that Kapil Sibal had not disclosed all the business interests of his wife in his declaration. He further said that Sibal’s wife has a stake in a company, which is one of the largest exporters of meat. Sibal believes these accusations are meant to stoke religious sentiments. Hence, he wants the EC to step in this matter.
EC today censured both Amit Shah and Azam Khan for giving highly inflammatory speeches. It has sent a letter to UP government to promptly file FIRs against them and start criminal proceedings as soon as possible.
Finally, an idea seems to have struck Rahul Gandhi, pun intended. In a rally, he accused Narendra Modi of banaowing ullu (fool) of people. In a sharp attack, he said, “Modi-ji, Hindustan ko ullu banana bandh karo”. Expectedly, BJP has promptly responded to Rahul’s barbs. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi alleged that it is Congress which has hung on to power by making fool of people. Rahul continued to attack the so-called Gujarat model of growth referring it as toffee model. He again hit out on the favours given to the Tata group for setting up their Nano factory.
Priyanka Gandhi too started campaigning for her mother at Rae Bareli after taking a dig at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. She warned the electorate saying that BJP in power will imply power concentrating on one person only. Ironically, Gandhi family has been often accused of exerting overarching power in Indian polity. It remains to be seen how far voters are influenced by Priyanka’s cautionary word. She criticised BJP saying communalism is ingrained in the saffron unit.
This communalism vs secularism debate has increasingly become a major talking point in this election. Expectedly, Bollywood has decided not to be left far behind. A section of Bollywood has come up with an appeal to support secular forces. The collective appeal – brainchild of writer Anjum Rajabali and endorsed by several Bollywood bigwigs – says though corruption and governance are “important issues”, the country’s secular character is “not negotiable”. Several celebrities including filmmakers Mahesh Bhatt, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Vishal Bharadwaj, Kabir Khan, singer Shubha Mudgal and ‘Dhoom 3’ director Vijay Krishna Acharya have signed this appeal.
Rajabali though, would like people to believe that it is not an appeal against BJP or its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. But not all are willing to take his words in face value. The likes of Madhur Bhandarkar, Anupam Kher and Tushar Kapoor has hit out strongly against this appeal deeming it an attempt to divide the industry.
Coincidentally, today itself eminent script writer Salim Khan inaugurated the Urdu website of Narendra Modi. Although he brushed aside the suggestion that it is a ploy by BJP to garner Muslim vote, Salim didn’t hide his disappointment at the Congress rule. He expressed confidence that Modi has learnt his lesson and nobody will die under his rule.
The Election Commission today cautioned media against broadcasting or publishing any opinion poll till the completion of the Lok Sabha polls on May 12. It believes that publishing opinion polls about seats where voting has already taken place is in effect dissemination of result of exit polls in those places.
Tomorrow is one of the biggest phases of General Elections 2014. In 12 states, people across 121 constituencies will exercise their democratic rights. The political fate of stars like Nandan Nilekhani, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Chavan, Anant Kumar, Misa Yadav hangs in delicate balance.
We will be back as usual tomorrow with all the major elections news…