NaMo's response to Kejriwal by Rahul Roshan
It was clear that Modi couldn't have continued with his public posturing of “royally ignoring Kejriwal” for long after the AAP leader shifted his focus from anti-corruption to a campaign against him. It would have been virtually impossible to do that now, given the fact that Kejriwal has now emerged as the chief challenger in the Varanasi Lok Sabha election (unless the Congress springs a surprise).
But it was always a mystery how Modi would respond to Kejriwal's challenge. He never needed to do that earlier as Kejriwal too had strategically avoided direct attacks on Modi, till he resigned as the Chief Minister of Delhi.
Some like R Jagannathan thought that Modi should continue to ignore Kejriwal and take on him and his party through "guerilla warfare" i.e. not take on Kejriwal individually and officially, but keep him busy through proxies. However, Modi has surprised many by taking Kejriwal on directly. He called him “AK49” and made no secret of whom he was referring to.
His dig at Kejriwal came on a day when the government of Gujarat responded to the 16 questions raised by the AAP leader during his recent "study tour" of Gujarat.
This can't be coincidence. Modi is clearly working on a strategy to counter Kejriwal. And it looks like his plan is to indulge in something that is the opposite of “guerilla warfare”.
While his government in Gujarat and strategists in party will defend him against "mainstream" attacks by Kejriwal i.e. attacks based on questions over development model and governance, Modi himself will attack Kejriwal on rhetoric and nagging issues (but issues that are not publicised by Kejriwal).
That's why the government of Gujarat came up with a rebuttal based on data and court observations, while Modi chose to attack Kejriwal on an issue that was nowhere on the agenda of Kejriwal.
Modi can't dictate the agenda that effectively through indirect "guerilla warfare". The media and commentators would have always questioned why Modi was silent and not taking on Kejriwal directly, despite him being his opponent in Varanasi, and thus agenda would have been set by what Kejriwal said.
That's what Modi has been smart with. He almost never allows his critics to set the agenda of the debate around him (something his supporters and fans fail miserably at), but he sets the agenda of the debate.
So while Kejriwal tried to set the agenda of Modi's proximity and tacit complicity with corporate houses, Modi has hit back with the issue of AAP leaders and the party policy's proximity (perhaps soon to be changed to complicity) with Pakistan.
He raised the issue of AAP's website hosting a map that showed PoK not a part of India and articles written in Pakistani newspapers and websites that praised AAP and Kejriwal.
Just as Kejriwal hints that Modi is agent of corporate houses because corporates are friendly and appreciate his government, Modi has almost hinted that Kejriwal was a Pakistani agent. He virtually called “AK49” a weapon of Pakistan, which along with AK47 rifles, Pakistan was using to attack India.
It's a pretty sharp attack, and it terms AAP and Kejriwal as elements detrimental to India's security. Now AAP and Kejriwal will be forced to counter this serious charge, which means they will be forced to play as Modi wants them to play.
Basically AAP won the toss and elected to bowl first, but Modi jumped on the pitch and has bowled a googly. more