oppn parties Gujarat: Easy Win For BJP Will Be Disturbing For Public Discourse

News Snippets

  • Last date for filing Income Tax returns by salaried employees extended to August 31
  • Supreme Court extends Assam NRC deadline to August 31
  • Prohibitory orders clamped in Bengaluru. Wine shops, pubs, bars and restaurants ordered closed for the next 48 hours
  • Congress still trying to avoid the floor test in Karnataka
  • 75 percent of the jobs in all private sector firms to be reserved for locals in Andhra Pradesh
  • Supreme Court will hear the petition of two independent MLAs seeking a direction to the Karnataka Speaker to hold the trust vote "forthwith"
  • Congress-JD(S) and a partisan Speaker push the Karnataka trust vote to Tuesday
  • Panel submits draft legislation to the government to criminalize mining, investing and trading of crypto-currencies
  • Government panel suggest a ban on crypto-currencies
  • Lok Sabha passes RTI Act amendment bill amid protests by the Opposition
  • Jasprit Bumrah rested for ODIs and T20s
  • Dinesh Kartik ignored across fromats
  • Rohit Sharma included in Test team too while Wriddhiman Saha makes a comeback after injury
  • Virat Kohli retained as captain across formats for the West Indies tour
  • MS Dhoni decides to take a two-month break, will skip West Indies tour but will not retire
Congress-JD(S) government loses trust vote in Karnataka. BJP might stake claim to form the government
oppn parties
Gujarat: Easy Win For BJP Will Be Disturbing For Public Discourse

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Exit polls give it to BJP
The exit polls are out. BJP is winning both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh comfortably, if one has faith in these polls. For, as far as Gujarat is concerned, the Congress doesn’t seem to put its money on exit polls. Its spokesmen have been pointing out that many polls in the past have got it wrong in many states. While that is true, but since the poll of exit polls (meaning an average of all exit polls) also shows that BJP is winning by a wide margin in Gujarat and sweeping Himachal, it leaves little room for doubt.

Congress gains in Gujarat
The exit polls also show that the Congress is gaining hugely. From 61 (43, after defections) seats in the outgoing assembly to predicted 65 at the lowest and 74 at the highest, the Congress seems to be making the most of the anti-incumbency factor coupled with its strategic alliances with the three young turks of Gujarat – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mewani. It also shows that Rahul Gandhi has at last found a semblance of connect with the masses, however small and perhaps not yet effective enough to topple a giant like Narendra Modi in his own backyard.

Modi changed tactics in second half
What must be troubling both Modi and his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah is the extremely good show the Congress has put up. But both of them had inkling about it, as reflected in the change in content and tenor of Modi’s campaign in the latter half. Initially, the prime minister was content at talking about growth and economic prosperity. But when he found few takers for it post notebandi, GST and dwindling jobs, he switched expertly to what he is good at – playing to the gallery by making personal attacks and playing on Gujarati pride.

Gujarat loves Narendra Modi, but for how long without good governance?
There is no doubt Gujarat loves Modi. He is viewed as a poor man’s son who rose from the ranks to bring pride to the state and the nation. They have immense faith in his capabilities, the proof of which comes from the way many Patels, OBCs and Dalits have refused to side with the respective young turks from their communities and the famous comment of a trader who said that they will vote for BJP as they are angry but not gaddar. Modi, till now, has a mesmerizing hold on the people of Gujarat. But with the fierce opposition this time, things can change fast if governance is not good in the next five years. The BJP needs to pull up its socks and introduce a newer version of the much-touted Gujarat model.

Congress must keep up the good work
As for the Congress, although Rahul Gandhi seems to be heading towards starting his first innings as Congress president with a defeat, he can take heart from the good showing. To continue the good work however, he would have to keep chipping away at BJP strongholds in the state. He would also have to cement his alliances with Patel, Thakor and Mewani on a long-term basis as it will result in a win-win situation for all concerned. The young turks will get the benefit of the huge grassroots level infrastructure of the Congress while the party will get dedicated vote banks. Congress must realize that despite losing now, it has to beat the BJP in Gujarat to stop the Modi juggernaut.

If BJP wins, in-house critics will have their tails between their legs
The final results, if they mirror the exit polls, will come as a huge relief for Modi and Shah. For, a defeat – or even a poor showing – in Gujarat would have had two effects. It would have lessened Modi’s authority in the party over time and would have further emboldened in-house critics like Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha, to name just the two who are most high profile. It would have also dented the prospects of another win in 2019 general elections.

But BJP's victory will be bad for public discourse
Victory, on the other hand, will strengthen his hands. He will now be able to say that all talk about the traders of Gujarat going against him after notebandi and GST were figments of the Congress’ imagination. But the real tragedy is that while Gujarat is being won due to the esteem the people of the state hold Modi in, the man himself will think that his ill-advised tactics in the second half of the campaign won it for him. That would mean that he will employ more of the same in the future and the already disturbingly plumbing depth of public discourse will go down a few notches more.