We learned a story in childhood. It is that of a Priest carrying a goat, throwing it away after four thieves brand it “as another animal”. I feel in politics this feat is repeated with active connivance of the Media by all parties. “Call a goat by another name number of times, people tend to believe it” In warfare, before the final battle with arms is fought various tactics are employed by rivals to demoralize the enemy. This is very well depicted in the “Mahabharata” when Lord Krishna, knowing fully well war is inevitable proposes 'peace' with the sons of Dhritarashtra, in the process sufficiently unnerving the enemy camp by adulating the prowess of the Pandavas and sending confusing signals.
So, when on the 14th of August, the mighty challenger to the ruling party threw a gauntlet to the PM in more rhetoric than content, it was part of an electoral war strategy. The gamble worked. For, part of PM's speech reads like this.