So, the much-awaited results for the Gujarat assembly elections were finally announced on Monday (December 18) and amidst a tight contest, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to retain its seat by the skin of its teeth and bagged 99 seats. The opposition headed by Congress’ new president Rahul Gandhi performed beyond expectations and the Grand Old Party won a handsome 80 seats just missing the majority mark of 92 by a whisker. The election battle was a heated one and lots of rhetoric, emotion were in play during the course of campaigning and in the end ‘the son of the soil’ i.e. Narendra Modi pulled enough votes for the saffron party to emerge victorious.
Narendra Damodardas Modi, India’s 14th Prime Minister put everything on the line for this state election and the contest became very personal and the political discourse throughout the campaign was highly vicious and both sides were to blame and PM Modi sometimes got carried away and crossed the line inadvertently in the heat of the moment. PM Modi has said that people of Gujarat have trusted the BJP by choosing it for the sixth consecutive term (since 1995) and the margin of the victory doesn’t matter as opposition played very dirty and the polarisation of votes took place. BJP by all accounts might have lost seats (115 in 2012 assembly, all 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2014), but its vote share was increased and even though there was disenchantment with GST and demonetisation in the urban areas, the saffron party swept the metro cities and its seats were reduced in the rural areas due to agrarian crisis and variety of different reasons.
The elections were very tense and it literally went down to the wire and Congress should be mighty pleased with its efforts and piggy backing on the young leaders in Alpesh Thakore, Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel paid dividends for the Congress and Mevani and Thakore became members of the constituent assembly for the first time. As the poll rhetoric was getting shrill by the day, Rahul Gandhi maintained his dignity and focussed and spoke on issues and grievances faced by the common man and proved that he is ready to be a hardcore politician and will be a serious contender in the next general elections.
BJP is becoming a party, which is turning into a heavy election-winning machine and with retaining Gujarat and winning Himachal Pradesh, the right-wing party now has hold over 19 states in India and won in Gujarat despite huge anti-incumbency and general apathy from the electorate and proved that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have cracked the science on how to win election after election.
Is Narendra Modi a worried man or relived after the poll results? Your guess is as good as mine and knowing India’s chief election campaigner this victory will sound like a moral defeat and will sting for some time. Shah and Modi are very ruthless and will conduct an honest inquiry into the Gujarat verdict. Rahul Gandhi has finally done something credible and India cannot become a totalitarian state with one party winning every contest and the opposition has to get its act together to challenge the BJP.
Lok Sabha elections for 2019 are less than 18 months away and PM Modi might have got a reality check to do some course correction ahead of the next round of assembly elections. Modi now knows that people are not in sync with BJP and its economic, social policies and despite BJP winning its citadel, there are murmurs of discontent and India’s 14th PM has its task cut out and whether to rejoice or introspect over results will take some time to register and the Indian Republic should remain sacrosanct irrespective of any result.