By Sanjay Thapa Jeet
BJP may have won Gujarat but the massive downslide in assembly seat numbers to 99 from 115 seats is a clear indication of the misgivings of the voters and a general trend to the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls –totally annihilating the exit polls predictions !.
Gujarat assembly polls were taken to be semi-finals in 2019 –reflecting the mood of the people towards Modi’s three and half year rule since 2014. It is also seen as a verdict of the people towards the Modi magic since 2014. A major takeaway one should notice is that almost 2 percent NOTA has been registered in Gujarat– showing that voters expressed theirs despise by coming to vote but voting none of the contesting parties!
Gujarat model, agenda of vikas — demonetization, GST, bulldozing pro-Hindutva agenda, anti-Congress tirade, lurch in the anti-corruption move as well as failure on employment growth generation as promised in BJPs manifesto seem to have been the issues that the Congress had been gunning for. Thus Gujarat poll results were expected to be a key indicator towards these and were eagerly awaited by political parties, pundits, and stalwarts alike. Amidst playing the Hindu card, and the Gabbar Singh Tax and anti-Vikas, Rahul Gandhi left no stone unturned to pitch in all his might to make a Congress turnaround after the UP, Goa, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh debacle. While rural Gujarat was expected to go with Congress the fact remains that several bastions of Congress in North Gujarat and the tribals have borne the brunt too. On the other hand, many industrial townships which have gone with BJP quite against expectations of the anti-Modi sentiments for GST and demonetization.
Factors like Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani to ramp up the Patidars reservation issue were seen as a spoke in the wheel for the newly elected President of INC, Rahul Gandhi. For the newly elected President, the Gujarat elections were being seen as a make or break for the Congress which was on the path of self-destruction apart from being his litmus test for his potential to take on Modi in 2019. This, in fact, had led to the last minute nervous panic by the PM Modi. Despite a record 41 rallies in the state and even ramping up a roadshow after casting votes and even hiring a foreign seaplane to show how serious he was towards vikas of Gujarat, the nervousness of BJP was amply visible.
But seen largely, in the Gujarat elections, development issues of the state was pushed to backburners and was totally eclipsed by issues of hindutva and ”janeu dhari hindus versus fake Hindus who were fighting against the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya and even questioned the very existence of Ram and Ram Setu as a myth. The situation was so nerve-racking for both the parties that issues like calling PM ”neech’ and an immediate rebuttal by Rahul Gandhi to throw out Mani Shankar Aiyar in order to salvage Congress and perhaps give some breathing space for the Congress under the new leadership of Rahul Gandhi.
Featured Image Source: Hindustan Times