Gujarat Election, Hardly a Harbinger of a Different Narrative?

Bitterly fought election campagin for Gujarat assembly is now over. Bitterness quotient of campaign has been high. Allegations had flown thick and fast. Competitors, ruling BJP and challenger Congress, had thrown every thing at  each other viciously. Winner and losers will be decided by voters. Let us look at why Gujarat election was so bitterly fought.

Outcome of Gujarata state election may have the following long term consequences:

  • Victory for congress lead opposition may galvanise other opposition parties in different states of India, to come together under one banner, for next general election barely a year away.
  • Dislodging ruling party from fortress Gujarat may show that a different narrative of growth and development has takers in India.
  • Chief general of opposition force, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, has recently got a promotion. Thre is murmur of dissent that elevation of more selection and less election. Coming on the back of string of defeats, win in Gujarat will strengthen Mr. Gandhi’s position in the party. A loss, however, give further strength to dissenting voices.
  • Leader of opposition forces, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, has shed his reluctant politician image and shown  a certain combative ability. From visuals projected on TV, there is no doubt he had asked right questions and people have listened. There is no denying it is easy to challenge performance of incumbent government that is on power for two decades. May be that is why opposition strategists had exposed their leader more in Gujarat election compared to Himachal pradesh, where they were ruling.
  • If ruling party in Gujarat, BJP, can snatch a victory despite two decade long anti-incumbancy, it may vindicate prime minister Narendra Modi’s economic policy and spell a doom to opposition unity.
  • If prime minister can sell his vision to one of the more prosperous states and that is highly business oriented, then he can realistically hope for a victory in next general election.

Pollsters believe, election this time will be much more competitive. Ruling party (BJP) may retain power, albeit with thinner majority. Some others like Mr. Yogendra Yadav, predict an outright victory for opposition. There is no doubt opposition campaign has caught traction in Gujarat election. Only time will tell, which narratives voters of Gujarat buy. Will Gujaratis vote against a fellow Gujarati prime minister?

I think, whatever may be the outcome of the election, BJP has less to lose compared to congress. Because BJP, the ruling party at the centre will in all likelihood  retain control of same number of states, plus or minus one, if they manage to capture congress ruled Himachal Pradesh or lose BJP ruled Gujarat. It may be a matter of personal prestige of prime minister who had thrown his might behind winning his home state. Yes, there may be question on success of Gujarat model of development.

On the other hand, will result of Gujarat election be considered coming of age of Mr Rahul Gandhi, the President elect of congress party? There is no doubt, Mr Rahul Gandhi has shown combative trait, emerged from reluctant politician image, and asked many relevant questions. Many pollsters believe Congress campaign has seen traction. As described above, some believe congress may improve it’s tally of seats or may even score an outright victory in Gujarat. But it must be remembered that it is relatively easy to fight against two decades of anti-incumbancy. So far Mr Gandhi has been able to poke hole in ruling BJP agenda and claims. His own agenda, and success there of, will emerge only if Congress can retain Himachal Pradesh or Karnataka. May be that is why congress party elders have exposed Mr Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat campaign more, compared to Himachal Pradesh.

  1. Gujarat Legislative Assembly election, 2017 – Wikipedia

     

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