Gujarat will go to polls during winter this year, and there is much excitement about the polls because of one reason – this is first state election that the BJP will fight without Narendra Modi as its CM face since 2001.

The political situation in the state is very dynamic and has been changing rapidly in the last two years. Let’s look at the events and their political ramifications –

Vaghela’s Third Front?

It seems like Gujarat Congress has decided to go into the state elections without their senior most leader Shankersinh Vaghela. He met with the top leadership of Congress in Delhi but his trip was fruitless.

While the BJP, under Amit Shah, has strategized and is working as a cohesive unit in the state, the Congress is still stuck in internal politics. A few days back, Vaghela told journalists that the Congress party isn’t ready to do its homework.

Vaghela will soon convene a meeting of leaders and workers who support him and decide whether he should stay in the Congress or not.

The Congress leadership was in Delhi deciding upon their presidential candidate, when Vaghela arrived in Delhi to discuss his reservations. This didn’t go down well with the top leadership of the party. Sonia Gandhi didn’t give him any time, nor did Ahmed Patel. Meanwhile, Ashok Gehlot and Bharatsinh Solanki began important meets in Gujarat without Vaghela.

Solanki and Gehlot believe that Amit Shah is somehow disturbing their political calculations by using Vaghela, and that’s why they aren’t ready to move ahead with Vaghela.

It is being said that Vaghela might form a third front with the NCP and JDU in the state for the upcoming polls. If this does happen, then it would most probably benefit the BJP.

The core voter base of the Congress might get divided, while the BJP’s base will be expected to remain the same. Even if BJP’s vote share doesn’t rise, simple maths tells us that because votes will get divided on many seats, the total number of seats that could end up in BJP’s lap could be much more than it has ever won.

Patel Agitation

Backed by certain politicians, an amateur in Hardik Patel was made the face of a Patel-Patidar agitation aimed at furthering their political motives in the state and destabilizing it so that seeds of anger against the government could be sown in the public. The ruckus was covered heavily by a portion of the media because they found this as an opportunity to target PM Narendra Modi.

It was believed that the BJP was losing its grip over the state with Narendra Modi no more at the helm. With the municipal election around the corner, it was presumed that on the back of this agitation the BJP would suffer in the polls and the Congress saw the polls as a golden opportunity to make a strong comeback in the state, especially in the rural areas. The situation did seem to be rather against the BJP.

Demonetisation and Municipal Elections

Demonetisation has had mind-boggling effects on BJP’s voter-base in rural areas all around the nation. It has overwhelmingly won panchayat polls around the nation which is being regarded as the poor giving a thumps-up to PM Modi’s demonetisation drive.

The municipal polls were held on 29th November 2016 which was smack-bang in the middle of the demonetisation drive. Congress already had the issue of the Patel agitation to take to the people, and now they had another – the ‘inconveniences’ caused to the people by PM Modi’s demonetisation move.

The BJP has always had a strong base in urban areas; it was the rural areas where Congress sought to gain heavily. But, this desire of the main opposition party in the state was shot to tatters when the people of the state gave the BJP an incredible victory by putting in its lap 107 out of 123 municipal and district panchayat seats which was more than what they won the last time!

Analysing all these events, it seems that the BJP will not only achieve a comfortable but a larger than expected victory.


Vinayak Jain

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