Successes and failures of BJPtext_fields
The outcomes of the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have confirmed all expectations and predictions. In Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party has won 156 of the state's 182 seats and is assuming the leadership for the sixth time. This time, the Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal, which was adamant about entering Gujarat from Delhi, stunned the BJP more than their main opposition Congress. But the results show that they were able to turn it into a huge possibility. A preliminary look at the results suggests that it has led to further weakening of the already weak Congress. The BJP, which looked at the loss of power and even of majority in Gujarat as a matter of prestige, saw the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party and began campaigning more fiercely. With 18 crore members, the BJP is the largest political party in the world and, as of 2021, the richest, having more wealth than the next seven national political parties combined. The entire expenditure for campaigning in Gujarat was directly borne by the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah jointly conducted the campaign and set the agenda. Modi held 31 rallies in 33 districts. This time, there was a five-member committee instead of a Pramukh (Panna Pramukh) for each page of the electoral roll. 82 lakh families were targeted by these committees. In Gujarat, where there are approximately five crore voters, the goal was to garner two crore votes in this manner and the mega campaign had 3556 magic shows, 3700 street plays, live tableaus at 1400 places to conquer the rural areas, 1700 flash mobs to capture the city, 150 smart Ratha yatras covering all 182 constituencies, Youth with Namo bands at 1400 places... Thus BJP's campaign was full of people and meaning.
The BJP replaced Vijay Rupani as chief minister in September of last year as part of an image-boosting drive, given that its accomplishments in state administration haven't been anything to boast about. Earlier, when Anandiben Patel sullied the party's face, Rupani was called in. Despite the change of guard, the state's situation has remained unchanged. Not only that, as in the suspension bridge disaster at Morbi, mistakes were made. However, the BJP emphasised Modi's development story which is more than a decade old. What's more, even when Amit Shah tweeted in celebration of this victory, he praised Modi's Gujarat. Patel was brought in last year to regain the waning support of the BJP in his community. In this way, BJP increased its majority by building new caste equations and igniting radical Hindu ethnic politics.
The Aam Aadmi Party, seen by the urban middle class as an alternative to the BJP, has made its presence in Gujarat this time by taking a step forward in Hindutva politics. Kejriwal's arrival made things easy for the BJP by stamping images of gods on currencies, uniform civil code and offering free Hindu pilgrimages. With that, Amit Shah came forward with the 2002 genocide. Shah fueled the campaign with the story of having 'taught terrorists a lesson' in 2002, and when the Sangh Parivar leaders and activists were acquitted of the genocide cases. Those who pointed fingers at them and went to the court were detained. In this way, what the BJP used to secure the biggest margin in Gujarat was a campaign mix that blends casteism, religious enmity and extreme nationalism.
If the BJP's success had been thanks to achievements in governance, they would not have lost in Himachal Pradesh. Their failure in Himachal also demonstrates that the BJP is unable to point to the success of the state's leadership or governance and that they are forced to move forward by trying to turn to the Modi-Shah duo. Because the BJP had pitted with more focus in Gujarat, Congress was able to use that gap to make some gains with self-confidence. Himachal's victory is a consolation for the Congress, which is suffering from a huge blow in Gujarat. But even after winning 40 seats leaving the BJP behind by 15 seats, they are in a situation of having to fear the losers. The reason is that after seeing that the results were not in their favour, BJP dashed to try the horse-trading tactics of money bag. The fact that the Congress has to look for secure resorts to keep a watchful eye on the victors speaks for not their political ineptitude, but the bankruptcy of those who cast the net for them. Given the fact the BJP has ten times the strength and resources of its opponents, if its back-biting tricks are lauded as political victories, our democracy is in grave danger - a fact that should not be forgotten in any poll analysis.