Recently, Madhusudan Mistry caused a stir, when he climbed up a pole to tear down Narendra Modi’s campaign poster. The Congress strongman will take on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in Vadodara. In 2009, the BJP’s Balkrishna Shukla won the seat with a whopping margin of 1.36 lakh votes. In an interview to Rahi Gaikwad, he questions Mr. Modi’s development claims and criticises his hold over the State’s bureaucracy.
What do you think of the show of support to Mr. Modi in his road show in Vadodara?
Mr. Modi does not have the confidence that he would win. That’s why he has to make such a show: to establish a so-called upper hand over other candidates. The way he mobilised the government machinery is only an attempt to mesmerise voters.
I don’t know about other candidates, but I don’t care. Everybody knows me and my nature in Gujarat. I have never surrendered to anybody and won’t go with a folded hand to anyone.
Recently you got into a controversy.
What was that controversy for? Simply for asking a little space? There are only BJP’s advertisements on all electric poles. I told the authorities that on an equal opportunity basis, you allot one pole to us and one to them. They wanted to give us poles where even 5,000 people don’t pass, whereas the BJP got poles where a hundred thousand people pass. Nobody in the bureaucracy has the guts to tell Mr. Modi his posters would be removed. Everybody fears him.
Do you mean there is rule of fear in Gujarat?
Of course, very much! Not fear as much, but everybody is trying to please him to get his favour, thinking that he would be the PM, which he will not.
What do you think of Mr. Modi’s politics, since he has been Chief Minister for four terms?
I am asking him to resign to have a level-playing field.
What about his development mantra?
The fact is otherwise. Did he ever talk about the 4,800 farmer suicides under his rule? Did he ever talk about the suicides of 500 landless labourers?
I am exposing him. He is a manipulator. This State has produced Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai. They had stature and certain principles. What principles can you expect from Mr. Modi? What can the people expect from him, except the Hindu-Muslim divide? His claim of 24-hour electricity in Gujarat is hollow. If a mediaperson asks him a disturbing question, he would tell him/her to stop shooting, he would remove his microphone, take a sip of water and say, ‘Thank you very much,’ and leave.
I want to see Vadodara develop like any other district. Mr. Modi will only create hysteria about war. He is a warmonger. Why is Gujarat lagging behind in social indicators, be it health or education?
Mr. Modi has said the Congress replaced Narendra Rawat, who was earlier fielded for Vadodara , because he is a Dalit.
That’s the stupidest argument. A person who is aspiring to for the highest post is playing a Dalit card? Why did he not give a ticket to Ratilal Verma, [a Dalit leader]? Did he ever say a word about the Dalit girl who was raped in Patan?
What are the Congress chances in Gujarat in this election?
We will cross 16 seats. The people of Gujarat know whom to vote for in a national election.