Claiming that the BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi was being marketed on lines of presidential nominees in the United States, Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said Modi's vision on crucial issues had not come to the fore.
In an exclusive interview with Dr Uday Nirgudkar, editor-in-chief, Zee 24 Taas, Chavan said while Modi criticised his opponents, he did not reveal his vision for the country or his opinion on crucial issues like development, inflation, labour reforms, opening of pension and insurance sectors and entry of foreign banks.
Chavan said it was incorrect to attribute the development of Gujarat to just one person and credited the state's growth to the people of Gujarat who have contributed to the development of cities like Mumbai and London as well.
Huge public meetings, he said, could be organised with "proper planning and marketing" and questioned if these rallies led to conversion of votes. Chavan said large public meetings were organised by event managers who handled camera angles and stage decoration. Without naming Modi, Chavan said he was an expert in this.
Chavan said while Rahul Gandhi was leading the Congress poll effort, the prime minister would be elected by MPs in a parliamentary democracy. Chavan criticised the BJP's projection of Modi as the prime ministerial candidate as being reflective of the US presidential system, which was not expected in a parliamentary form of democracy.
In a veiled warning to the NCP, which has been accused by the Congress of trying to sabotage the chances of its candidates in the past, Chavan said the elections, where the BJP was said to have an edge in opinion polls, would be a test of survival for regional parties. Without directly naming the NCP, he added that such attempts (of sabotaging the fortunes of an alliance partner) could be replicated by the other side as well.
"The Lok Sabha elections will be a question of survival for many," said Chavan, pointing to how the Congress-NCP was said to be losing votes in Maharashtra, according to opinion polls.
"If a regional party suffers setbacks, it throws a question of survival," said Chavan. He, however, pointed out that the Congress was a national party. Chavan said if there were attempts to mar the chances of a party in one constituency, the other partner in the combine can also do it.
Chavan said contrary to claims, he had not given any assurance to MNS chief Raj Thackeray on toll projects.
The MNS had called off its recent rasta roko agitation within hours after Chavan assured Raj of a meeting to discuss the issue. "I did not give any assurance to MNS. I only said that the new toll policy will be finalised before the code of conduct comes into force," he said. It has not happened.
Chavan denied that the Congress had a secret understanding with MNS. He also defended the state cabinet's decision to regularise slums that came up till January 1, 2000, and credited prime minister Manmohan Singh for running a coalition government for 10 years.