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A Choice of Two: Gujarat is a Contest Between CM Modi and PM Modi

New Delhi: What started as a walkover now seems to be acquiring the airs of a close competition in Gujarat if you go by the changing nature of opinion polls days before the state goes to the ballot booth. Congress, to even its own surprise, seems to be gaining ground, and the famed war machine of BJP is coming unstuck, they would have you believe. Pollsters and pundits though seem to forget one small subtext running through BJP’s campaign. The understated line gets often drowned out in the cacophony of BJP campaign based on Alauddin Khilji, Hafiz Saeed, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb – apparently all genuine poll issues in 21st century Gujarat. This new line is about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and comparing his past as the state chief minister for 17 years Gujaratis are being offered the liberty of choosing between Modi who rode to the high seat in New Delhi based on the brand equity he cultivated as the state CM, and the Modi who has been ruling India for last three years now. The first remains to be a wildly popular figure, here, almost mythical in nature. The second evokes mixed feelings, but sundry grievances apart, the brand of PM Modi who is promising a better tomorrow, has its own takers. And either way you choose, the BJP gets to laugh its way to the bank. Look closer, you will see this PM 2017 Vs CM 2012 narrative playing out at multiple levels. The Prime Minister it seems is BJP’s only bet in the state, and the party is confident.

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