Gujarat Elections have been the hot topic in the country since months now. After the UP Elections, Gujarat was arguably the biggest battlefield for the two big bulls of the political arena: The Indian National Congress and The Bhartiya Janta Party. Gujarat happens to be the stronghold for the BJP which has somehow managed to remain undefeated for the 6th consecutive term here. It also happens to be the Home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Party President Mr. Amit Shah. One can say that Gujarat is like the Capital State of the BJP at this point of time as far as Indian Politics is concerned.
On the other hand, Gujarat elections were the first elections for the newly promoted Congress President Mr. Rahul Gandhi and he had a big task on his shoulders to be executed. Winning Gujarat was equivalent to morally winning the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. The biggest blow the BJP could ever face in their tenure of 5 years would have been the loss of Gujarat. Taking away Gujarat from BJP at this stage is equivalent to cutting the roots of a tree that has grown too huge.
The Importance of Gujarat Elections:
Congress had not won a single seat in Gujarat during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the very existence of Congress in Gujarat was in question. Knowing the facts well, RG & Co. left no stone unturned to ensure an unlikely victory over the saffron party. Known for its minority appeasement politics, the Party President went off track and visited as many as 27 temples during his election campaign. Congress played the caste politics card a number of times during this blood bath. The Congress indeed worked so hard, that at one point of time, the BJP was eyeing a defeat in the very state which made Narendra Modi who he is. The Congress literally forced the Prime Minister himself to step in and sweat out his energy campaigning in the state where once his name would be enough to turn the tables round for his party. Riding on the back of historic decisions like Demonetization and The Goods and Services Tax which happened to slow down the economy for a short period made it all the more difficult for the BJP. The Gujarat elections, therefore, have to be one of the fiercest state election battles fought in the country in the last decade or so.
The Beauty of these elections:
Amidst this massive battle of votes, the Gujarat elections happen to teach us a lesson or two about democracy. Democracy is a beautiful thing and Gujarat elections are a live example of the same. Both, the Congress and the BJP can learn a thing or two irrespective of the results that have come out. To understand our point further, let us first have a brief look at the current results:
|Party||Seats (2017)||Seats (2012)||Seats (2014)|
Gujarat is the same state where BJP, riding on the back of the then CM of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi, won all of the 26 seats from the state. They recorded a hefty 59.1% vote share in their favour from the state. Such was the dominance of Gujarat that just a year back, not even in the wildest dreams could a person predict that BJP might actually lose the 2017 Gujarat elections. But just a month ago, a BJP defeat looked inevitable.
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A lesson for the BJP:
This is what is beautiful about democracy; the people have the power to overthrow any person and hand over the power to somebody else. For the BJP, this narrow escape is a lesson that they cannot take people for granted. Sans any doubt, Gujarat did develop at a record breaking pace under Narendra Modi. However, ever since he stepped down from his CM position to take over the reins of the nation, Gujarat has lacked a competent leader. It is believed that the BJP never did justice to the people’s mandate by giving an efficient CM to the people of Gujarat. Some call it the carelessness on the part of the BJP while others term it as their over confidence. Neither Anandiben nor Vijay Rupani have managed to gain confidence of the people.
The people of Gujarat have felt neglected and taken for granted since a while now and result is quite evident: BJP has suffered a loss in vote share, a loss in number of seats, defeat of their senior leaders and a loss in connect with the people of Gujarat. The increase in unemployment and ignoring the Patidar Community just made the things worse.
PM Narendra Modi (left) with BJP Party President Amit Shah (right)
Winning elections after elections, the BJP needs to realize that winning elections is not the end of their responsibilities, but they need to deliver as a government even if it happens to be in their strongest and most developed state. The message for the BJP is loud and clear: the people, especially the people of Gujarat made BJP what it is today, and the same people of Gujarat can ruin the party single handedly if not looked after well. Even the strongest of voters of a party can go against them in a matter of few months. If BJP wants to stay in power, they must work for the people and their well being!
A Lesson for the Congress:
For the Congress, their extended run of losses doesn’t seem to end anytime soon. Having lost even Himachal Pradesh where they had a government in the last term, the Congress is now restricted to just 4 states in the country. The people have made congress realize that no matter how badly the BJP government might be functioning, they don’t look at the congress even as a second option, thanks to the tarnished image of theirs created by the stains of corruption and dynasty politics. The voters also sent a clear message that their double standard religion politics can no longer fool people. Visiting temples is not the way to win over the people of India anymore and the educated class wants nothing less than development.
If the Congress wants to regain power, they must fight on real issues faced by the common men. They need to realize their mistakes and they can no longer cry foul and blame the EVM for their losses.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi
It is also a message that as of now, people do not accept Rahul Gandhi as the face of the oldest party of India. Just because a person is born to a certain family doesn’t give him the right to take charge of a democratic nation. If he has to win an election, it has to be more because of his qualities of leading the nation and not because of the surname he has been gifted. The people shall decide the face of the opposition and not a particular party. That is what democracy all about, the voter is the King!
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Tough Times Ahead:
The Indian Political Scenario is entering into an interesting phase of events. The BJP seems to have weakened but might still be capable of pulling off a clear majority in the 2019 elections. The popularity of Narendra Modi doesn’t seem to be dying anytime soon, but it is also evident that people cannot support a party just because of a particular face – a democratic country needs more strong participants in the leadership and not just a one man army.
Also, with GST and Demonetization already slowing down the economy a bit, it will be interesting to see the reforms the BJP Government takes in the coming year. The Budget of 2018 is going to be one of the most important budgets we might have witnessed in a while. It will be interesting to see whether BJP adopts for a populist budget fearing a defeat in 2019 or continue taking staunch and hard decisions keeping the long term benefits in mind. The ball is always in the court of the party that is in power and BJP might want to take full advantage of it.
For the Congress, they have a ray of hope but it just doesn’t seem enough to win an election on their own capacity. They needed a Hardik Patel in Gujarat, they need to find similar regional faces in every state they contest – at least for a while. 2018 is going to be an eventful year as we shall witness 4 big State Elections and near the 2019 General elections. Interesting times ahead, indeed!