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In Gujarat, Sonia Gandhi has nothing new to say

Last updated on: October 3, 2012 18:20 IST

In Gujarat, Sonia Gandhi has nothing new to say

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Sheela Bhatt

Sheela Bhatt says Sonia Gandhi's speech in Rajkot did not do anything to galvanise the Congress cadre in Gujarat.

Sonia Gandhi's much-awaited public speech in Rajkot, Gujarat, was disappointing.

It was supposed to kick-start the state Congress's campaign. She spoke loudly and her body gestures were aggressive but beyond it the listeners have not found anything of substance.

Her argument in favour of FDI in retail was not-so-impressive while there was total absence of any attempt to approach the Gujarati voter's mindset. 

It's understandable why she opted to not pick up the challenge thrown by state Chief Minister Narendra Modi about the expenses of her medical treatment but by playing too safe to avoid falling in trap laid by Modi, her party has missed the opportunity to galvanise the cadre in Gujarat.

The Gujarat Congress is in a desperate search of a correct political language to take on Modi. The Congress high command too seems to be searching for the same.

There are no local leaders in her party, who have pan-Gujarat recognition and acceptance. With the election just round the corner, Sonia Gandhi's cautious talk didn't counter Modi's agenda nor did it set her party in motion to regain power in the communally-sensitive state.

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Sonia main theme was that the Congress was responsible for Gujarat's progress

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Sonia's main theme was that the foundation of Gujarat's progress was laid by Congress. Indirectly attacking Modi, she said that, "It is the habit of some people to take credit for the work done by other people."

Modi, who is concluding his well-received and much-covered Vivekanand Yuva Vikas Yatra on October 11 in Baroda, has been repeatedly challenging the Congress to reveal the expenses of Sonia Gandhi's medical treatment and her foreign trips.

This has trapped Congress because Modi's attempt is to sow the seed of suspicion.

There is no way the Congress or Sonia Gandhi will reveal the actual expenses. Since Sonia Gandhi has the Special Protection Group's cover, she will have a valid excuse for inflated expenses.

In response to Modi's personalised attack on Sonia Gandhi, the Congress has declared that all her medical and travel expenses are paid by her. While the Modi camp is hardening their demand to know the real figures, the Congress should have changed the points of debate through her speech in Rajkot.

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Sonia takes on Modi on irrigation delays

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It seems the Congress is too wary to take any brave political stance at this early stage where they find that in villages and towns there is anti-incumbency.

Also an important point is that like last assembly election in 2007 neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi are likely to be of much help to Congress's campaign against Modi in the state.

Most senior Congress leaders are banking on local factors and anti-incumbency against the Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs. This does explain why Sonia Gandhi gave such an 'issue less' speech.

Sonia's speech had one valid point that the farmers of Gujarat were not getting the waters of the Narmada. So far Modi's government has been providing only drinking water. Modi has failed to expedite canal works to supply Narmada waters to farmers of Amreli, Bhavnagar or Kutch.

In a smart act, Modi's propaganda machinery swung into action, today. As soon as Sonia Gandhi spoke from the podium about Modi's failure on irrigation water for Saurashtra, two prominent Gujarati channels started showing a sleek and short advertisement about 'avataran' Narmada canal project that would create water reservoirs in the districts of Bhavnagar and Amreli. The advertisement said it will be beneficial for 2.75 lakh acres of parched land in Saurashtra. Of course, it goes without saying the commercial carried a photograph of Modi.




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