The Shiv Sena accused ally BJP of “stooping to a low level” in the run up to Gujarat elections, stating that “development issue” was missing from poll speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It said Modi had “belittled” himself by claiming that suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks against him had insulted the pride of Gujarat.
“Modi has belittled himself. We consider Modi as pride of the country and Hindus, but he is now chained by the Gujarat asmita (pride),” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana.
“In Gujarat elections, Modi is less of a national and more of a regional (leader),” it said.
The Sena also said it was futile to register complaint on the “EVM scams” with the “BJP-sponsored Election Commission”.
Notably, during the first phase of polling in Gujarat on Saturday, the opposition leaders had expressed apprehensions over electronic voting machine (EVM) tampering, a charge rejected by the poll body.
The Sena said the Gujarat poll campaign should have been focused on the much-touted development plank.
“However, that point was missing from the prime ministers speeches in Gujarat,” it said.
In his home state, the prime minister was sometimes emotional and sometimes aggressive in election speeches, the Sena said.
“This is the state which gave us this prime minister and where the BJP has ruled for 22 years. Why should BJP stoop to such a low level during election campaign?” it posed.
“As is the tradition, EVM scams have been unearthed in Gujarat. It is futile to register a complaint on these scams with the BJP-sponsored Election Commission,” the Sena said.
The editorial said the quality of election campaign has “declined” due to the BJP.
“When we mentioned Afzal Khan in Maharashtra Assembly elections, the BJP objected and said we had stooped to a low level in campaigning. However, Modi himself referred to the Mughal regime in the Gujarat poll campaign,” it said.
In the 2014 Maharashtra poll campaign, the BJP had asked the Shiv Sena to apologise for describing its campaign leaders as “Afzal Khan ki aulaad” who were trying to conquer Maharashtra.
The Sena also wondered why top BJP leaders were campaigning in Gujarat against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, when it is “believed that his elevation as party chief has made it easy for the BJP to win the polls”.
“It is said the BJP’s victory in Gujarat has become easy due to Rahul Gandhi’s elevation in Congress. If that is the case, why are the prime minister, BJP national president and all Union ministers and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states campaigning against him?” it asked.
“People in the country are puzzled over this,” the Sena added.