But, none of this could shake BJP's resolve to keep debate firmly centred around growth, security and good governance, shorn of any religious colour as Mr. Modi kept on stressing.
I had written an article about two weeks back titled 'Final phase of the dirt track racing' on my blog 'secretsofrss.blogspot.com.in' where I had stated that having failed to bring Modi down through logical discussions of issues people are worried about, Congress will resort to muck raking to bring down the debate to personal levels. I had noted that as we enter the final phase of Elections 2014, we will find that the final track is turning out to be a dirt track with mud being flung at Modi and BJP from all sides.
All the talk of development and empowerment seems to have fallen by the way side since last two days. Modi's carefully projected agenda for 2014 - development and governance, is being relegated to background with misdirected efforts by some in media. Having accepted that Congress would be decimated in these polls, agenda of Congress is to somehow prevent Modi from coming on the top. So all tricks of the trade - demonizing RSS, raising issue of communalism (basically putting fear in the mind of Muslims), name calling and personal attacks of the lowest kind have been tried. Idea is to put BJP and Modi on defensive. So, no issue is too trivial and all serious issues are trivial.
Congress knows that BJP's friends (if not BJP directly) can bring out skeletons from Congress cupboard, like Rahuls detention at a US Airport during NDA regime, Rahul's girlfriend, Rahul's education, his and his mother's passport, Sonia Gandhi's unaccounted travels overseas and refusal to share the information on specious grounds of 'security', financial games of country's Congress anointed son-in-law Robert Vadra. But, they don't care. All they want is taking focus away from key issues like listless governance, corruption, poor security environment and unemployment etc. Will people be fooled by such diversionary tactics? And will BJP fall victim to this charade?
Unfortunately, though Modi has not fallen into that trap, there are many 'well meaning' BJP members and well wishers who have guilelessly got into this game. We have regular suspects like Togadia, Giriraj and their local variants. If that was not enough, we have respected yoga guru Ramdev going overboard with his 'saintly' sense of humour. It is quite possible that he did't mean what he said, but there is no doubt that he chose wrong words.
What was needed was immediate distancing from his views by BJP, retracting the statement and unconditional apology or regrets by Baba. Matter concerns social sensitivity and no amount of finely tuned reasoning will work. Cost to BJP can be enormous. But it seems fatigue of long drawn election campaigning is taking its toll on it.
Priyanka's ploy to play on victimhood for which Indians fall easily and draw BJP into mud-slinging seems to be working presently. BJP has released a video on Sonia Gandhi's 'son-in-law' to the applause of media which loves sensational noisy debates rather than serious issue based debates.
I don't buy headlines that say BJP is scared of Priyanka. I would rather say, BJP is loving it. Who doesn't like hitting where it hurts more and scoring points? They seem to forget that this is an arena where Congress excels. Remember Modi came on the top not because he fought or rebutted each charge thrown at him. He came on top because he stuck to his agenda of doing his best to deliver results and let his results talk.
Though I doubt that people will change their minds now, it is unfortunate that real issues are sought to be buried under such flimsy issues. An election that could be remembered for giving a historic turn to Indian democracy with a healthy debate on genuine developmental issues after years is being reduced to old Hindu vs Muslim identity politics, farcical Secularism vs Communalism debate; and Gandhi family and now beti-damaad vs Modi fight. May be BJP needs to just sit back for a moment, relax and see where they are and keep focus on their ultimate goal.