Ahmedabad: "Vikas (development)" will be the BJP's campaign theme for the high-profile Gujarat polls at a time when the Congress under Rahul Gandhi is aggressively seeking to puncture the "Gujarat model", often referred to as a development benchmark by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The theme "I am vikas (development), I am Gujarat" was launched in the presence of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal at a function in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
The poll campaign comprises advertisements showcasing achievements of the BJP government in the last 20 years in Gujarat, the home state of Modi. The BJP is battling allegations of making "tall claims" of bringing a turnaround and of engaging only in glib and bluster.
The BJP's tagline seems a counter to the Congress-backed social media campaign "Vikas Gando thayo che (development has gone mad)" lampooning the claims of development on various fronts.
However, the BJP has officially denied that its tagline is a response to the Congress campaign on social media. The Congress is seeking to revive its political fortunes by targeting the "Gujarat model of development" and Modi, who had served as chief minister of the state. The "Vikas Gando thayo che" trend is fast catching the imagination of netizens in Gujarat.
The audio-visual advertisements under "I am vikas (development), I am Gujarat" compare the situation in 1995 (the last year of the Congress' stint) and the 20 years of the BJP government on parameters such as power generation, GDP growth, number of universities, engineering and medical seats among others.
The launch of the tagline suggests the BJP, which had taken lead over other parties in using social media ahead of the 2014 polls, is keen to use it against the Congress. The Congress has been taking potshots at the BJP over the state of the economy and a host of other issues, including MSP for agricultural produce, demonetisation, GST etc. through the "Vikas..." trend.
Speaking on the occasion, Goyal reeled out figures to compare the situation in Gujarat in 1995-96 and the "progress made by Gujarat under the BJP rule thereafter". The BJP first came to power in Gujarat, ruled mostly by the Congress before that, on its own in 1995.
"Gujarat has witnessed unprecedented development in various sectors during the last 20 years, and the figures are mind-blowing," Goyal said. "GSDP has grown at 15 per cent in the last 15 years from Rs 72,000 crores in 1995-96 to Rs 10.34 lakh crore in 2015-16. The per capita income has also increased by 10 per cent," he said.
The minister also gave comparative data on agricultural production, industrial outputs and electricity production during 1995-96 and under the subsequent BJP governments. In his recent three-day tour of Saurashtra, Gandhi had targetted the BJP on its much-touted "Gujarat model of development".
During his interactions with people at different places, the Congress vice president had asked them about the "status" of development in Gujarat and "how the Vikas has gone mad in the state"?
State BJP spokesman Harshad Patel said their campaign tagline was not in response to the Congress's social media onslaught. "Vikas has been the central theme of Narendra Modi government since 2002. 'I am Vikas, I am Gujarat' is the political theme of the BJP which says development is synonymous with Gujarat," he said.
The BJP's thrust on making development its campaign theme comes at a time when the party is battling odds in the form of Patidar agitation, altered caste equations and anger of traders over demonetisation.
Updated Date: Sep 28, 2017 22:37 PM