oppn parties Gujarat Elections: Is BJP Facing Defeat?

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Gujarat Elections: Is BJP Facing Defeat?

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.
What kind of churning is going on in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Slated to go to the polls in December, the state is witnessing political upheaval of the kind it has not seen in the recent past. Starting with trouble in the Congress party where the BJP was accused of trying to poach MLAs to the patidar agitation and the so-called ‘social engineering ,‘ everything seems to be happening in the state, much like the slog overs in the second innings of a highly charged T20 match.

The opinion polls are revealing. The BJP vote share is sliding south. From 59% about three months ago, it has now fallen to 49%. The Congress has increased its share from 31 to 39. So, is there for once truth in what Rahul Gandhi says about the BJP camp sporting grim faces?

It has to be recognized that the much touted Gujarat model failed once Modi shifted to the higher office in Delhi (although many believe that the model was never there in the first place). Neither Anandiben Patel nor Vijay Rupani could capitalize on the charisma of Modi and keep things going smoothly as the stalwart had expected. Even Amit Shah found that helming the party at the national level was a tough job and ruling Gujarat by remote control in tandem was impossible. Couple this with infighting in the party and BJP woes in Gujarat seem to have reached their zenith before the polls.

As if this was not enough, notebandi and GST put the final nails in the coffin. Trader discontent (and Gujarat is basically full of the trading community) has reached a level where people speak openly against Modi and his decisions. Since the textile and gem/diamond trades were largely untaxed and dependant on cash transactions, mostly in the parallel economy, the income of the traders has been hit hard by both the above disruptions. No amount of explanations by party big-wigs, including Modi and Shah, seem to have pacified the trading community who seem to have turned their back on the BJP.

The Congress, on the other hand, smartly out-maneuvered the BJP in the MLA poaching episode after a few initial hiccups. It has embarked upon a policy of local tie-ups and has tried to win the backward classes and dalits by forging alliances with various organizations representing their cause. The party has come to realize that in the current atmosphere of backlash against the BJP, it can be beaten in one-to-one contests. Hence, it is trying to eliminate multi-cornered polls in as many seats as it can. This is smart policy and can bring the party an unexpected win.

But no one can underestimate the charisma of Narendra Modi and the wiles of Amit Shah. Gujarat is their home state and they will not let go of the state so easily. While Narendra Modi is going to lay down his charm like never before and will play the “son-of-the-soil” card to the hilt, Shah is expected to use all weapons in his armoury of wiles to try and out-wit the Congress. It remains to be seen who wins in this contest which was earlier seen to be one-sided but is now fast turning into an evenly matched contest.

image coutresy: gujaratelections.in