The results of students’ union elections across the country from Rajasthan, Punjab, Chandigarh, Tripura, and most prominently JNU and Delhi University, have given clear indication that the youth, especially the educated have seen through the giddy promises made by Modi starting from 2014 up until now. There seems to be a clear disapproval of the politics of hatred and violence. Tanks in the universities don’t necessarily bring votes in the name of pseudo nationalism and pseudo patriotism. Police protection and support to one lot of students can bring violence but not votes for the favoured group.
The short lived Anna Hazare movement was very judiciously used by the BJP to denigrate Congress, while simultaneously touting the so called Gujarat Model of Development as the mainstay of BJP’s rhetoric to sway the enthusiastic youth across country in its favour during the 2014 elections.
In the past two years the socio-economic political situation in Gujarat has pulled down the façade of success for its ‘development model’. Whether it is job creation, social harmony, health of economy and opportunities of financial growth for educated young people and small entrepreneurs, this model has no answers.
The Patidar agitation is the manifestation of frustration among youth and they want to see promises being kept and positive results to show on the ground. They have realised that a new set of promises are also taking them nowhere.
The ever dividing land base within the families has put pressure on family incomes. Agriculture income alone cannot support the current needs of the families in this current growing atmosphere of privatization of services and facilities like quality education, health care, farm input costs of seeds and fertilisers along with other basic needs of food and shelter. The biggest failure of big-ticket industries has been their inability to create adequate numbers of jobs for educated youth. A comparative study of big investment enterprises and small and medium units clearly indicates that big industry doesn’t necessarily mean proportionately more jobs. While smaller factories do absorb a bigger workforce. Suppressing minorities is one thing but suppressing powerful and vocal members of its own vote base is another ball game altogether.
BJP today doesn’t have a charismatic leader like Narendra Modi in Gujarat and his performance in Delhi too is being eyed with suspicion. There is definite anti-incumbency and many caste groups including Patels are ready to dump BJP.
Intolerant and violent behaviour of one section of students in the name of nationalism, patriotism and culture has in effect repelled simple and peaceful students from their earlier position of giving BJP a chance. Another seemingly apparent reason of disenchantment and disillusionment with the ruling dispensation of the day is a continuous flow of new promises and schemes without any account or talk of fulfilling the older ones. Student bodies’ results are bound to have an impact on the Gujarat assembly elections as well.
Today nobody is talking about the Gujarat model of development but everybody will discuss the voting pattern and outcome of 2017 assembly polls in Gujarat. It will have a huge bearing on BJP’s performance in 2019.
Nawed Akhter is a film maker and political analyst based in Gurgaon.