Gujarat is a setback for BJP, but will it make saffron party more humble?

A123

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Gujarat is a setback for BJP, but will it make saffron party more humble?

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For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to have struggled to cross the 100-seat mark in Gujarat when it was boasting about bagging 150 is suggestive of an undeniable downward turn in its popularity ratings.

Considering that it tried all the tricks in the book, including several dirty ones, to cross the winning line showed that the party was uneasy about the outcome from the start, although Gujarat is Narendra Modi's home state and few would have normally expected the locals to move decisively against a Gujarati Prime Minister.

But the fact that the previously unheralded Congress did reasonably well by adding to its 2012 tally of 61 seats was a sign that for the first time in more than two decades, the BJP was facing a challenge. The increase in the number of seats won by the Congress, and the fall in the BJP's, underlined the fact that but for the relentless campaign undertaken by Modi and almost his entire cabinet, the BJP would have been hard put to win.

Along with the intensity of the campaign, with the Prime Minister concentrating so much on one state when he went only a few times to Himachal Pradesh, which also went to the polls, what was also noteworthy was the eagerness with which he latched on to the Congress maverick, Mani Shankar Aiyar's gaffe about calling Modi names to assert that any slur on the Prime Minister is an insult to Gujarat.

Arguably, neither Modi's claim of personally representing the state's asmita or pride, nor his preposterous charge against his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, about conspiring with Pakistan had any noticeable impact on the mindset of the voters. In all probability, the outcome would have been the same even otherwise. But what these unprecedented outbursts, including the one about Aiyar having planned a "supari" operation to eliminate Modi, showed was that the BJP had the scare of its life during the elections.

The nervousness may have been all the greater because the party could not have expected the Congress to put up a fight. Although the Grand Old Party (GOP) always had a 40 per cent vote share in the state, there had never been any expectations about its prospects because of its moribund condition with hardly any organisational muscle or effective local leaders capable of drawing crowds.

However, perhaps to its own -- and certainly to the BJP's surprise -- Rahul Gandhi's entrance made a dramatic difference. For the first time since it went out of power, the Congress could seriously think of regaining it. Even if in the end, the HAJ factor made up of Patidar leader Hardik Patel, backward caste leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani did not make as much of an impact as was earlier thought, it proved that it was possible to mobilise the disaffected elements in the state against the seemingly all-powerful ruling party.

It cannot be said for certain whether the Congress will be able to sustain this combination of ambitious first-timers in politics -- two of whom do not belong to it -- for any length of time, especially when the prize for which they came together has eluded them. Besides, the Congress does not have anyone based in the state who can keep them together with a focussed agenda. One cannot expect Rahul Gandhi to continue playing the role of a unifier once the battle drums are silenced.

For the Congress, therefore, it is almost back to square one in Gujarat as the state has once again slipped out of its grasp and it will have to re-engage all over again in building the party's ground level base. But the big takeaway nevertheless for the GOP is that, first, it has succeeded in giving the BJP a scare which no one would have thought possible in 2014, or earlier when the Congress lost four assembly elections in a row; and, secondly, that the party can now look forward with considerable confidence to next year's elections in the three BJP-ruled states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where it may not be possible for Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to stave off the anti-incumbency factor as well as they have done in Gujarat.

For the BJP, the realisation must have dawned that the euphoria of 2014 is gone. Modi may still draw crowds, but it is possible to give him the jitters. It is unlikely that either he or his party will continue to make their arrogant claims about ushering in a Congress-mukt (free) India any longer. It will also help the party if the setback leads to a toning down of the haughtiness which has been its hallmark in the last few years.
 

Combat Medic

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Is Modi going to be elecetd again? People seem to be happy with him
 

Nilgiri

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Is Modi going to be elecetd again? People seem to be happy with him
Yes he has about 80% popularity rating.

It helps him even more in federal election compared to state election (where intermediaries somewhat get in the way).

For example, many of those voting for congress for Gujarat State will switch back to BJP vote for national leadership.
 

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Yes he has about 80% popularity rating.

It helps him even more in federal election compared to state election (where intermediaries somewhat get in the way).

For example, many of those voting for congress for Gujarat State will switch back to BJP vote for national leadership.
Well he seems to be favoured internally but what are his accomplishments on outer scale. I don't know how does it work in India but is there a chance that he is going to replace Ramnath Kovind?
 

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For example, many of those voting for congress for Gujarat State will switch back to BJP vote for national leadership.

Why would they do that? Its like they prefer Congress for their home state, but on national level they want BJP ...... ?????
 

Nilgiri

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Why would they do that? Its like they prefer Congress for their home state, but on national level they want BJP ...... ?????
Kind of. The anti-incumbency pressures are different on local state and national scale (and would be even more different/intense generally the higher resolution you go to like say state region, state district, muncipality etc)

In raw terms, BJP has been there in Gujarat for more than 20 years, in national power this time about 3+ years (i.e not even full term yet).

Same phenomenon is seen in say the US where you get blue representatives, governors and senators (for their version of state elections) in deep red states (on presidential basis).
 

Nilgiri

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Well he seems to be favoured internally but what are his accomplishments on outer scale. I don't know how does it work in India but is there a chance that he is going to replace Ramnath Kovind?
Do you mean on foreign arena for outer scale? Not really so much, he just continued the overall momentum there and not really wreck it...he chose Sushma Swaraj to handle that stuff mostly, and she is generally capable at the job.

The priorities in India are internal big time, so thats where Modi is focused his energies. Only with internal improvement can you project effectively outside over time without expending too much cost.

As for future president role for Modi, I dunno, he needs many many more years of life for chance at that (given his age already). Can only really stack up that analysis after say his 2nd term or whatever his last term is (provided he gets it) of PM and what BJP performance is after he feels its best he retire from active politics etc. President is just figurehead role largely anyway, I think its kind of not really Modi's cup of tea to begin with....but lets see.
 
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