Patna (Bihar), December 19, 2017 Despite resentment among a cross section of electorate, BJP clinched Gujarat for the sixth time in a trot. However slender the margin of victory may have been still, if the saffron party could manage to rein in discontentment, it is an achievement of a sort.
Most importantly, BJP has successfully overcome the challenge put up by the trio of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mewani. More so, despite demonetisation and GST and subsequent traders’ agitation BJP has maintained its stronghold in urban areas.
The party has suffered substantial blow in Saurashtra where, arguably, Patidars’ and farmers’ agitation factors dented its vote share but saffron party’s better performance in other areas points to its success in somewhat placating Patels.
BJP gave tickets to 49 Patidars which to a larger extent offset the Hardik Patel factor as caste of candidates, play an important role in electoral politics. Besides, Patels living in Diasporas still have strong liking for Narendra Modi which influenced the voting pattern to some degree in urban areas.
Obviously, this win does not come without cost; eight of the BJP ministers of previous state assembly lost elections. Congress too suffered similar setbacks as its seasoned leaders like Shakti Singh Gohil, Arjun Modwadiya etc. lost the election. This goes to suggest that the traditional Congress leaders have failed while the new faces of Gujarat politics such as Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mewani ensured a big comeback for Congress.
The election has exposed the vulnerability of ‘Gujarat Model’ as there seem no takers of the slogan in the state of its origin. Therefore, in the coming elections of other states BJP would hardly be in a position to sell it.
Besides, by not giving a single ticket to any Muslim candidate, the saffron party once again ignored the claim of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas.
Moreover, The Pyrrhic victory of the BJP and that too in its strongest bastion, has come as a morale booster to the Congress. The Gujarat verdict has electrified the Congress rank and file and has somewhat demoralised the BJP cadres.
(Shams Khan is a journalist based in Patna.)