India is supposed to be world’s largest democracy and we take great pride in it and always preach it to other countries about India’s sovereignty and independence. India is a land of 29 states and seven union territories and somewhere or the other elections are happening and people celebrate elections as some sort of festival and now it’s the turn of Gujarat. Gujarat will go to polls on December 9 and December 14 in two phases and the results will be out on December 18. This election is somewhat unique and different as it is the home soil of India’s 14th Prime Minister Narendra Modi and world’s largest party i.e. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) president Amit Shah.
What does the electorate of Gujarat want? What are his aspirations? What are his demands? What is the value of a vote in this election? Surprisingly these questions are on the back burner and all political parties are guilty of playing vote bank, casteist and shallow kind of politics to suit them. Rahul Gandhi, the leader of Congress and soon to be president of the party is on a temple spree and is leaving no stone unturned to win this election and after a long time is behaving like a leader who is in complete command and this election might be the kick he needs to launch himself.
The fringe elements and young leaders like Hardik Patel (Patidar agitation), Alpesh Thakor (OBC leader) and Jignesh Mevani (Dalit activist) are calling themselves the voice of marginalised, down trodden and saying that for the past 22 years the saffron and Hindutva has taken people for ride and development has only happened for rich and elite class and claims of vikas and prosperity have been highly exaggerated and somewhat superficial.
Narendra Modi is a political animal and one of the finest speakers of this generation and very rarely loses any election battle and this elections offers him a tough challenge and like any good leader he is fighting the battle head on and is evoking the son of soil and Gujarati asmita (Gujarati pride) card to defeat the opposition. PM Modi knows that there is unrest and disenchantment with the voter on many issues like demonetisation, GST, low growth, farmer issues, unemployment and most of all 22 years of strong anti-incumbency.
One thing we know by now with PM Modi is that he likes to divert and digress attention from core issues and will focus on religion, personal attacks, emotional appeal and will play the underdog card, who became PM fighting all the battles and still emerged victorious. So, it is not a surprise when PM Modi will compare and belittle Congress to Mughal leaders, deliberately using Aurangzeb jibe to target vice-president of Congress and not even sparing former prime ministers (Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi) to make his point and keep on boasting about developmental record of Gujarat.
The voter of Gujarat is not naïve and knows what is reality and what is rhetoric, but the crucial issues is for the past 22 years only one party has ruled Gujarat and many of the young voter have not seen Congress government in the state. Congress and its allies are going to town over disaffection of various communities and crowds are coming to their rallies in big numbers, but will that crowd on election day vote for them or will still go with BJP is a question that even opposition knows the answer.
BJP is not used to losing elections and even they know that this is a very tough and close battle, but are confident of pulling through because of Gujarat’s very own son, who is holding the top job in the country. Can Gujarati pride bring food on table? This question will be answered by six and a half crore Gujaratis, who have been witness to, for the past six months, highly charged up and polarised election campaign and the ball is in every Gujarati’s court to stand up and fight for his/her rights and it will all boil down to delivery and results and not shrill rhetoric and vikas.
Post Script: They say every streak comes to an end. So, could this be the end of an era for BJP in Gujarat? Talking of streaks, a wrestler by the name of Undertaker comes to mind, who used to win WrestleMania matches for fun every year, but even his streak was ended by Brock Lesnar (quite funnily in Undertaker’s 22nd fight) and BJP, who think that their streak cannot be defeated might get a rude shock on December 18.