Free Press Journal

Gujarat Elections 2017: The battle of prestige between BJP and Congress


Gujarat Assembly elections have become the matter of prestige now for BJP and Congress both. While Rahul Gandhi is seen in a relatively new avatar, BJP leaders, who are trying to sound uber confident on camera, have to accept that this election is going to be tough. The Gujarat Assembly elections have turned from home ground into a battle ground, where PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah has lots at stake.

The battle is almost done with as the second phase of voting ended on Thursday, all eyes will be on the results now. The Congress and BJP both are engaged in the war of prestige. The Congress, which had a track-record of imploding during previous elections, has for once come together as a team and fought back harder than the BJP imagined. Whether the incumbent BJP or the underdog Congress wins, the Gujrat elections will have a wider effect not just in Gujarat but also across the country.

PM Narendra Modi has put so much at stake since coming to power at the Centre. The BJP has successfully completed one of its 2014 Lok Sabha election agenda ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’. But a loss in Gujarat, home state to both the prime minister and BJP president Amit Shah, will be seen as the dent to their leadership on home turf.

The Gujarat elections have become an interesting match between BJP and Congress, where the winner goes to finals in 2019, and the loser goes home. If the Congress manages to spring a surprise, it will put a huge impact and party can gain a momentum that may push it to be a serious contender in 2019. The regional parties are already swinging towards Congress, which is giving PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah a run for its own money at their home turf.

And if BJP retains Gujarat, it will go into 2019 elections with all its strength and reinforce in invincibility. A favourable result for BJP will demoralise the leaders and cadres of principal opposition Congress party and its allies.

The Gujarat election is not just about it. In case of BJP’s victory, its immediate impact would be felt in other states – Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan and Tripura – where polls are due in 2018.

Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are trying hard to go for a win in Gujarat, on the other Rahul Gandhi has put all his body and soul into it. During this campaign, Rahul has succeeded in sowing doubts in the minds of voters about the success of the “Gujarat model” of development. The crowd at Rahul’s rallies are charged and voters genuinely seem to be excited when he enters the venue.

Rahul Gandhi, in his newfound political tenacity, has been winning hearts of Gujarat voters, but can he sustain it? Well, that still needs to be looked at after the results. After his so-called ‘sabbatical’, will Rahul get back to the business of rebuilding his party in other states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, which will go to polls next year?

The regional leader Hardik Patel and his party [Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS)] also played a huge role in Gujarat elections, by stirring up the Patidar movement. BJP hoped that Hardik will lose its grasp after Anandiben Patel was removed as CM, but his rallies and road shows across Gujarat show, has proved that his appeal has not diminished. BJP tried everything to break Hardik down, but every time stood up and grew stronger.

Even Hardik swung towards Congress, making the opposition even stronger in Gujarat. But at the end, the voters will decide the fate of BJP and Congress, if the new EVM machines work fine. The Gujarat polls have shown the fighting spirit of Rahul Gandhi. Whether the anti-incumbency factor comes into play will also be known with the results. For Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, each battle is to do or die. Defeat is not an option for them, and they are willing to do anything to win each battle.

The Gujarat elections are surely going to be a battle for the ages and the results could make or break either of the political parties.