Of the two states where elections were held, media and election specialists were as expected dominated by Gujarat. The temperature was very soaring for the entire nation as it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. As Gujarat was very important to PM Modi, the combined opposition also sensed the important opportunity to humiliate Modi. Unquestionably, in a nation where in-office party generally face a difficult task, BJP’s 22 years of ruling Gujarat could be very comfortably used against it, not merely to snatch power but also spoil the image of the PM’s strong repute as a vote catcher?
But target missed is a missed whether missed by an inch or a meter. Therefore, defeat is a defeat whether by a seat or hundred. Though, this defeat, by all accounts, is a humble defeat. Gujarat is the epicentre of the BJP might, losing by this narrow margin is not something the party can be ashamed about. Realizing the fact that the BJP is at the crest of its ascendancy, as an electoral power today.
For the Congress, the upshot is a sort of new life. It has lost, but after a long era, it has presented some actual fight. For the power, Congress has shown its eagerness and aptitude to work with cohorts, and this foretells volumes about the party in 2019. Still, evenly, this is clear that it has done nothing by way of developing a long-term prospect for itself in the state. Its local leadership is a big zero and it has no positive map for the people.
It has only Rahul Gandhi, as a display man and this is the only gain and standing. However, he also has no roadmap for the revival mop the party. He was only busy on the nonstop personal assaults on him PM Modi and Amit Shah, indicate that while the main opposition party may aim and construct them a hit of his jokes, no one is actually amused. This is a negative approach and it cannot re-establish to the party any logic of significance, and it would be suicidal to overplay its performance. The fact is that the party has lost its substantial base in Gujarat to fringe caste minions.
The negative campaigning, in fact, has added PM Modi’s status as someone who can turn around a tight situation. It was a bitterly contested election. Congress used casteism, minority communalism, an endorsement from church and mullahs, EVM hacking rhetoric – plumbing new low whereas BJP used nationalism, development, Gujarat model etc. Nevertheless, the Gujarat results have unnerved up a new cache trove of data that a negative campaigning can fetch easily future electoral benefits.
Congress and its followers are foretelling their gains as an honourable victory that places the stage for their renewal countrywide. Contrary to this, BJP is reasonably stressing that, in spite of the cut of seats, it has in fact increased in the vote share, getting up more than 1% from the 2012 assembly election to 49% now.
Congress has roped in some Khap type caste leaders Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani. It also roped a Muslim radical from Kashmir Salman Nizami to consolidate Muslim votes. A Christian pastor also issued a fatwa to defeat the nationalist party means the BJP. Kapil Sibal very tactfully used the anti-Ram Temple at Ayodhya rhetoric in the Supreme Court to appease the Muslims. This divisive formula can be used in other states.
The nation, as well as BJP, has very valid reasons to worry. This new formula can wreck havoc and this will be another divisive new-Mandal era. Gujarat message is very useful that the party has to fight against this mathematics with urgency. If all these fringe groups join, a new Lalu can be created to defeat the Modi magic. The entire opposition, powered by caste and Muslim groups, was united in Bihar, where it won very handsomely. Almost the same game was played in Gujarat but missed narrowly.
On the other hand, Congress always tries to portray Hindus and Hindutva as villains. But the Gujarat results have written on the wall that the voters cannot tolerate such abuses. The result is such blames polarize Hindus too and it became counterproductive. In addition, it could argue that the Gujarat results vindicate this approach and that had Rahul Gandhi not changed this blame, the voters would have thrashed him in the elections.
Such unprincipled alliances are very easy, without any self-respect, no rivalries and nothing at state. Gujarat catchphrase has shown that to put up united opposition candidates in one-on-one contests against BJP all over India in 2019 is a very comfortable game.
It was a big achievement of BJP to win sixth consecutive term highlighted its merit trouncing the pull of 22 years of incumbency. Modi has once again proved his popularity, supported by Amit Shah, India’s best political manager. It was an exceptional achievement, in the same club as the Left Front’s past seven consecutive terms in Bengal, and present four in Tripura, and Biju Janata Dal’s four uninterrupted terms in Odisha.
The role of leadership was even more convincing for the bare comparison with Himachal Pradesh, where Congress was unable to undo the one-term anti-incumbency. Congress is certainly could not benefit from this new alignment in its leadership. Congress has once again recreated 1990s style caste-based politics. To dethrone a long-incumbent regime rocked by fresh troublesome reforms, Congress used divisive politics.
Electorally, the reforms and development side do not seem to have benefited, particularly the disruption caused by demonetisation and GST. Between Gujarat and 2019, there is every possibility that the development story will change significantly, chiefly that the BJP will be in election mode for this remaining period.
Gujarat also negated the argument that the confused early push to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would inflict a heavy political price. Earlier, the landslide victory in UP had deflated a similar blame about demonetisation. This is very significant. The short-term troubles have already started giving good results such as GDP growth bouncing back in the last quarter. With recent course modification to the GST regime, it will likely fade as a political tool.
The Gujarat results boosted, the stock, notably higher. That seems to specify that people in the world of trade and economics, many of whom had fear ceaselessly about demonetisation and GST’s outcome, nevertheless have full faith in the leadership of Modi. On the other hand, Congress was trying to cash and target the problems of farmers’ and want to carry this discontent in other parts of the nation.
PM Narendra Modi still has a strong and positive connection with the people and his credibility is very high. The effort to get the proper message in Gujarat and the truth that towards the end the campaign gave a clear indication that of a contestant than a 22-year-old incumbent is an indicator to how much the party requires facing the underdogs who can whip up the caste and communal frenzy.
It is going to be an extensive tough battle to 2019. The feeling of invincibility that had created around the BJP post-UP has weakened despite winning both the states. The Congress is shortly re-energized but Rahul Gandhi needs to change before he can assert that the party is on the right track. Likes of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore, Jignesh Mevani, Salman Nizami, Sibal, Aiyar etc may be good in the street fights but not in the big wars.
Gujarat has given a tough message of restlessness and has warned all parties to do better. As a result, the whole lot has become a little more doubtful and every option is open. The Modi government has its work for the welfare of these potentially weak sections like farmers, villagers, poor etc. The government should direct the government departments to open the recruitments to end the job crises. Similarly, the government departments must be made accountable and responsible for the grievances of the citizens.