New Delhi, May 26: The Congress is playing up the “uncompromising hostility” that marked Narendra Modi’s attack on the Prime Minister yesterday to suggest the BJP leader’s acceptability has limits and paper over his governance record that many consider his trump card.
Congress leaders feel the Gujarat chief minister’s appeal will remain restricted to a small extremist fringe in a largely tolerant Hindu community, while the minorities are beyond his reach.
They, therefore, claim not to be worried by Modi’s rise as a national mascot for the BJP, as signalled by the party’s national executive in Mumbai that ended yesterday.
“He (Modi) hasn’t matured with time and success,” a senior leader said. “The hostility in his approach and his refusal to show a sense of accommodation would prove counter-productive in this era of divergent and fractured national politics.”
According to another leader, the same aggressive style will neutralise perceived advantages Modi hopes to reap from his “governance” record. One of the biggest millstones around UPA II’s neck is a perception of policy paralysis.
Congress leaders are convinced that Modi’s inability to understand how Atal Bihari Vajpayee had succeeded in forming the country’s first BJP-led government would become a stumbling block for him in the 2014 general election.
They say that Modi’s speech at the rally following the conclave once again confirmed his intolerance, which had made him unacceptable even within the NDA.
The Congress believes that Modi’s “Centre-against-state” formulation is entirely different from the concerns about federalism expressed by other regional leaders.
A Congress leader contended that Modi’s aversion for the “Dilli ki sultanat” showed he had not developed a national outlook and was trying to use the “us-versus-them” discourse, which he had effectively employed in Gujarat for communal polarisation, to vitiate the Centre-state relationship.
“If Modi succeeds at the national level with this kind of discourse, this will denigrate the universal appeal of a tolerant and pluralist India,” Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed told The Telegraph. “But a person who thrives in hate politics and hasn’t understood the ethos and culture of India can never become the Prime Minister.”
Ahmed condemned Modi for comparing the Prime Minister to Nirmal Baba, a controversial preacher accused of fooling his devotees.
The party’s official reaction, too, appeared to charge Modi with intolerance. Spokesperson Manish Tewari objected to the chief minister’s diatribe against the country’s Prime Minister.
Tewari alleged that the various resolutions adopted at the BJP’s national executive were low on substance and high on rhetoric. “Forget about constructive suggestions, they don’t even offer informed critique.”
Tewari also took a dig at the BJP’s internal feuds, saying the Mumbai meeting had thrown up “a splintered, quarrelsome face” of the main Opposition party.
“The BJP has a president, a few super-presidents and some hyper-presidents,” a Congress source joked.