oppn parties Gujarat First Phase: Is It Advantage BJP?

News Snippets

  • Citizenship Bill to be tabled in the Lok Sabha today. Heated debate likely
  • Domestic tourism in Kashmir slumps by 87% in August-November period
  • Prime Minister Modi says police must make women feel safe
  • West Indies beat India by 8 wickets in the second T20 at Thiruvananthpuram
  • Rahul Gandhi says the NDA government kept Chidambaram in jail for so many days in order to take revenge
  • Kohli reclaims the top spot in ICC rankings from Steve Smith
  • Cabinet clears the Citizenship Bill. It will be placed in the Lok Sabha in a day or two
  • Hindu Jagran Manch members clash with the police in Kolkata after being refused permission to take out a rally
  • West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar says important files were sent late to him and his delay in signing them draws criticism from the TMC. It also brings the state assembly to a halt
  • 92,000 BSNL & MTNL employees apply for early retirement taking advantage of the new government offer. It will result in an annual savings of Rs 8.700 cr for the merged entity
  • Dengue deaths multiply in Kolkata even as the CM, Mamata Banerjee, asks the opposition not to politicize the matter
  • Government orders inquiry into the breach of security at Priyanka Vadra's house
  • Chennai-based engineer Shanmuga Subramanian helps Nasa find the pieces of Vikram lander on the Moon's surface
  • New Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray says his administration will take back cases against Dalits and activists in the Bhima Koregaon case
  • Dhawan calls his dismissal "nonsense"
43 killed in a fire at units in illegal building in heart of Delhi
oppn parties
Gujarat First Phase: Is It Advantage BJP?

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-12-10 08:11:06

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Gujarat voted in the first phase of elections on Dec 8. There was a huge buzz the whole day but in the end the voting percentage was only 68, a good 3.5 points lower than 2012. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala perhaps jumped the gun when he said that when people vote in such huge numbers, it is usually a vote for change. For, the numbers are lesser than those in 2012 and that year they had voted for the BJP.

Although there have been a lot of changes since then – notably, two changes in chief ministers, strong-incumbency, anger over demonetization and GST, farmer resentment at poor support price of crops, the Patidar agitation and ‘social engineering’ by a rejuvenated Congress – the bottom line seems to be that though people are angry with the BJP, they are not yet ready to ditch it completely.

All things point to the fact that the BJP is going to retain its core support and the opposition has not been able to stitch together a caste-religion combine that can overtake it. Firstly, the opinion polls give BJP a comfortable (though nowhere near the ambitious mark Amit Shah had set) number of seats to form the next government. Secondly, the betting market (often a good barometer as punters put their money where their mouth is) places the Congress at 1:3 to form the government. Thirdly, in a famous reply, a trader is reported to have said that while the community is angry with the BJP, they will still vote for it as “hum naraaz hain, gaddar nahin.” Fourthly, Mani Shankar Aiyar queered the pitch for the Congress by calling Modi neech. Modi gained immense political capital by playing on the remark. Lastly, the coming together of Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakor with the Congress has induced fear in the other communities about the impending quota-raj if they come to power. This will work in BJP’s favour.

But given the high pitch at which the Gujarat elections are being fought, anything less than 116 would result in a loss of face for the party. Rahul Gandhi knows this – as he also knows that he cannot help his party form the next government – and that is why he is working round the clock to ensure that the BJP tally is smaller than that in 2012.