Home arrow Archives arrow Open Forum arrow Open Forum-2017 arrow Gujarat Polls & After : MODI CHARISMA WANING?, By Dr Oishee Mukherjee, 20 December 2017
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Gujarat Polls & After : MODI CHARISMA WANING?, By Dr Oishee Mukherjee, 20 December 2017 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 20 December 2017

Gujarat Polls & After


By Dr Oishee Mukherjee


The slim margin of BJP’s victory in Gujarat elections is a pointer that the Modi magic may be prevalent but it is steadily declining. Pessimists may attribute this victory to the polarisation of Hindu votes in favour of the party, which it has shrewdly nourished even going to the extent of defaming and allowing its cadres to terrorise the minorities, but it has also to be accepted that it fought against the anti-incumbency factor. The victory margin of just around 99 seats was much less compared to its prediction of 150 seats and also its 2012 figure of 116.


The negative publicity of Modi against demonetisation, its failure to achieve the desired objectives, the hurried manner of implementation of GST whose taxation structure had to be revised a number of times and the highest rate fixed at an abnormal 28 per cent may have had some impact but not much. Moreover, during the closing days, Modi’s personal attack on Rahul Gandhi and his false accusations against former PM Manmohan Singh, may have also had a negative impact.


The Congress, no doubt, put up a good fight in Gujarat, largely regarded as a BJP bastion, driven by welding together of new economic forces and social identities, As per reports, BJP won around 16 seats with a slim margin below 3000 votes, thus indicating that the results could have gone either way. Though Congress rivals affected the prospects of the party, the new generation leaders -- Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Movani -- helped it and will be a force to reckon with at least in the State. 


The issues on which the elections were fought were indeed quite grave – farmers’ distress, unemployment and underemployment, micro and small industries affected due to various measures of the government, social unrest and insecurity etc. Added to this were the woes of small traders who have been madly affected by the GST. The Congress had a golden opportunity to gain majority in Gujarat but possibly the lack of grass-root organisation did not help it achieve the objective. However, the party also did not expect to get a majority though they no doubt put up a good fight, winning 80 seats.  


It has been felt that the business class that had invested heavily in the State backed the BJP solidly and wanted it back in power so that the subsidies and facilities would come to them. As is generally agreed, the so-called Gujarat model talks of a strong urban bias as a result of which the rural sector has not much advanced. In fact, the progress over the last few years in the rural sector in many States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bengal and Maharashtra is much better than Gujarat.


The Modi charisma is, no doubt, waning and most of his promises remain unfilled. His histrionics do no longer impress the educated masses. In fact, there was no talk of vikas (development) during the election speeches of Modi but these were only centred on nationalism and Hindutva. The shrewd politician and star campaigner that Modi is, he could connect with the masses even in a state of economic and social turmoil.


It is only the strong organisational base of the party, credit for which goes to Amit Shah that has possibly made the difference. The emerging issues that have generated lot of discontent and protests across the country may aggravate in the coming years to the detriment of the party if remedial action is not taken. It is understood that the BJP has to seriously introspect in the matter and evolve a pro-people approach.


On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi has gained political maturity which has been manifest by his dignified manner of speeches during the elections. Political analysts believe that he would be able to re-energise the party in a better way with grass-root contacts at the lowest level. Thus the States that would go to the polls next year would be tough for the BJP as social and economic issues are emerging in a big way.


Coming to the basic issues, farmers’ distress and agitation is possibly the most crucial and may be extremely difficult to tackle. Added to this, is the very poor job generation, pushing youths to activities not quite congenial for social peace. According to a recent survey, it has been found that the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalaysa Yojana has witnessed below target placement for the past five years. The mandate is to find 75% of successful skill trainees with a minimum salary of Rs 6000 but placement has been just around 52% in the last three financial years, including the present fiscal for which data is available till October.


If the organisation of the Congress is decentralised and aspirations of the people are taken into account, the party is expected to put up a big fight in the coming State elections where the incumbency factor would play a key role, except possibly Karnataka. Questions are being raised, and quite rightly so, whether Rahul can build a new narrative to revitalise the Congress and political scientists feel that the young leadership he is contemplating to build across the country may make a difference.


As regards the BJP, the Modi hype has to be matched with proper implementation strategies and good governance. Though governance as such may have improved during its years of rule, it is not up to the mark. For example, reports reveal that the Swaach Bharat campaign may have built toilets but these have been abandoned either because these have not been completed or due to lack if water. Moreover, it has not looked into the problems of farmers and small traders as also micro and cottage industries which are posing a big challenge towards economic revival.


Meanwhile, as per reports the government plans to spend an additional Rs 60,113 crores during the current financial year to roll out schemes to provide electricity schemes to the poor and pay for urea subsidy among others. Major spending heads include Rs 3594.57 for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme, which is much needed, Rs 1033.8 crores towards grants for the creation of capital assets and subsidies for the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Sobhagya) and Rs 20,532.5 for urea subsidy. These allocations would augur well for rural development, which is badly needed at this stage.


Finally, it needs to be pointed out that the big message for BJP is to ensure that rural transformation moves in the right gear as also become a hard task master down for proper implementation of schemes. The warning signal has already been sounded as many political parties are convinced that a national coalition can be weaved with the Congress in the lead.


The TMC and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the splinter Janata Dal (U) led by Sharad Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury have indicated that a combined Opposition has the potential to come to power in 2019 parliamentary elections.


However, in a healthy democracy what is imperative at this juncture, and political analysts rightly feel, is that the BJP’s actions have thwarted the democratic aspirations of certain sections of society, specially the minorities and dalits. If it does not take this as a warning, the consequences are not far to seek for the party in the coming years. ---INFA  

(Copyright, India News & Feature Alliance)

New Delhi

20 December 2017  



< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT