After all the uncertainties and political controversies, the Election Commission (EC) has announced the schedule of the Gujarat assembly elections drawing the attention of the whole nation.
Although not much national importance is attached to state assembly elections, there are many aspects to the public verdict in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘own Gujarat’. Given that the election is being held in a situation when the central government has entered its fourth year and the general elections are fast approaching, the poll should be seen as a ‘semifinal’. The first question being raised is whether the BJP will be able to retain its hold the fourth time as well in Gujarat, where the party has been clinging on to power since 2002, Narendra Modi seized control of the nation by keeping his foot firm in Gujarat. When Mahatma Gandhi’s homeland which has been converted into a Hindutwa laboratory, evolved according to the ideological concept of the RSS abandoning the secular and democratic values, the state witnessed many incidents that shocked the entire world. Although attempts were made to push all these aspects into oblivion after BJP assumed power at the Centre, it is the ugly face of a state that evolved through a destructive agenda which flashes through one’s mind while hearing the term Gujarat.
Assuming power in Delhi provided the Sangh Parivar with an opportunity to experiment ‘Gujarat’ at the national level. That is how the Modi government relocated the main officers and police chiefs who backed the experimentation of communal politics. The move of delaying the announcement of the Gujarat poll dates by former Gujarat Chief Secretary and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A K Jyoti even when he declared the Himachal Pradesh election schedule, was something which proved that the repercussions triggered by such measures are not trivial. The CEC had justified his move citing that it would hamper the relief measures to help the victims of the flood that hit North Gujarat in July. However, the latest reports indicate that the rescue and relief operations have been implemented in August itself. The allegation that the Election Commission was giving some time to Prime Minister Modi to make countless announcements in Gujarat during his visit to the state and also to make efforts to save the face of the central government that is grappling with recession, cannot be rejected completely.
It is normal for the new waves in national politics to be reflected in the looming assembly elections. When all except the BJP supporters began chanting in the same tone that the rare economic crisis faced by the nation is the ultimate consequence of the demonetisation decision implemented by the Centre a year ago as well as the much publicized Goods and Services Tax (GST), Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are finding it difficult to defend themselves. As a result of this failed experiment that shook the nation’s economy, e ven the studies conducted by the government agencies admit that the growth rate has slipped and inflation escalated. The economy of the state is currently not in a stage that could be revived using shortcut methods.
The new resurgence seen within the Congress faction is least likely to reflect in Gujarat. Reports from Ahmadabad indicate that Rahul’s visits in Gujarat have greatly influenced the ground level of state politics. Huge popular participation and increased presence of youth in Congress meetings are seen by many as a sign of major changes in Gujarat that has been turned into fortress of BJP for past one and a half decades without any opposition. Alongside, the leaning of new political and social powers towards the Congress is generally seen as capable of altering the political equations existing in the state. There is a general analysis that the BJP will have to face a stiff challenge if 24-year old Hardik Patel, the leader of Patel community and Thakoor community leader Alpesh Thakoor come out in support of Rahul. The calculation is that if all the non-BJP parties are ready to form a ‘Bihar Model’ grant alliance under the Congress, it can, on the back of anti-government sentiments, put an end to the BJP rule kick started by Modi. To overcome this, Modi-Amit Shah duo will for sure deploy all the tactics. Whatever the case, the Gujarat election results will no doubt, be greatly reflected in the national politics and the 2019 general elections.