Charismatic Modi puts the rest of the stage in shade

Vikas Pathak

BHOPAL, Sept. 26 -- It was a Narendra Modi show all the way here on Wednesday, as top BJP leaders shared the dais to address a massive rally in the run-up to the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls.

For the crowd, it was more a rally of Modi, the prime ministerial candidate. They waited in the sweltering sun for about four hours to hear him speak, often interrupting other speakers by chanting his name.

The Modi chants interrupted BJP patriarch LK Advani's speech first, and the latter quickly wound up as they grew. BJP leader Anil Madhav Dave requested the crowd to be patient just after the patriarch stopped. After this, BJP chief Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi and even Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were faced with Modi chants as they spoke. Chouhan, however, went ahead to complete his full address despite the chants.

While an attempt was made to display unity in the top BJP ranks, coldness was still perceptible.

Sushma Swaraj and Chouhan did not make much of a mention of Modi and stuck to the Madhya Pradesh theme.

The party's prime ministerial candidate, apparently secure as the man of the moment, showered lavish praise on Chouhan. Advani, who otherwise seemed cold, did praise the good work of the Gujarat government alongside MP. Modi was scathing in his attack on the UPA.

"The Congress isn't fielding candidates in MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi this time. The CBI will fight the next polls. The Congress doesn't have the guts to fight the BJP; they've fielded the CBI," he said amid applause, obliquely accusing the Centre of misusing the CBI against political opponents.

Modi warned the Congress that the country wouldn't forgive it for its Emergency (1975-77) mindset.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.