Can Congress Pull Off Gujarat 2017 and Snatch BJP’s Crown Jewel from it?

It is that time of the year again when Mainstream Media will go overboard in spreading their canards. Elections in Gujarat are only months away and there is no better time than now to fabricate news items that show the Gujarat government poorly. It is a strategy that Mainstream Media has been following ever since Modi government came to power in 2014. To be honest, the Mainstream media has failed every single time with this strategy, but in the absence of an alternative, it chooses to bank on fake news to spread its insidious agenda. Never before has the credibility of Mainstream Media been any lower but sadly there are no attempts by it to salvage whatever little dignity it is left with and start afresh. In the coming days and weeks, Mainstream Media will be full of articles, breaking news stories and shrill TV debates on how Gujarat is emblematic of all that is wrong with having BJP in power. Statistics will be tweaked, ground reports edited and a massive influx of fake news will take place, basically anything to prevent a return of BJP to power in Gujarat.

Ever since Modi’s transfer to Delhi, Gujarat BJP has struggled to fill his oversized shoes. Once seen as an oasis of peace and development, Gujarat, in recent times has been rocked by protests, accompanied by arson and rioting. Be it the reservation demands by Patidars and Thakurs or the protests by Dalits in the aftermath of assaults in Una, state leadership’s response has been found wanting. Both Anandiben and Vijay Rupani, efficient ministers as they were in Modi’s ministry, lack Modi’s charisma and vision. Anandiben, in particular, was seen as cold and distant. There were also allegations that her children had an undue influence in her administration. There were also charges of corruption against them. All of these factors, served as a pretext to ease Anandiben out of the CM’s chair. Vijay Rupani, is a welcome break from Anandiben’s lacklustre administration. He is known to be efficient and effective, but as he himself said ‘You cannot hold a lamp to the sun’ and thus Vijay Rupani is no Narendra Modi himself. Fortunately for the BJP, the Congress seems to be in a worse mess itself. Congress recently split vertically over the issue of Ahmed Patel’s re-election to the Rajyasabha. Far from being viewed as an alternative to the BJP, Gujarat Congress is merely seen as a party with a nuisance factor, with no leadership, direction or vision.

Given that Gujarat elections are only months away, politically motivated news, such as the one on a Dalit youth being slashed with blade or Amit Shah’s son making ill gotten gains, will continue to hit the headlines. Fortunately, as Opposition gets smarter, devising nefarious plans and wicked schemes, the electorate has also grown wiser. It is able to see past the web of lies and deceit that the Opposition builds before every major elections. From Church attacks to Beef murders to Award Waapsi, the Opposition has once again embarked on a time-tested and failed template of trying to thwart BJP’s victory, but mostly in vain. In Gujarat, the Opposition Congress’s strategy has been to cobble together a social alliance that can halt BJP’s march. The last time Congress tried this was in the 80s when MadhavSinh Solanki coined the KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) social alliance and swept the polls. The Congress has tried to endear itself to Patidar Andolan, protests by Dalits and those of OBCs. Unfortunately, the demands of these groups are mutually-antagonistic and thus Congress’s Social Alliance is a non starter. The Patidars want reservations for prosperous Patels who feel they’ve been cheated by decades of Reservation policies, Dalit leaders, evidently are unenthused about such demands and then there are leaders such as Alpesh Thakore are demanding sops for their OBC/SC/ST communities.

The recently concluded Lokniti-CSDS survey, threw up some interesting data points that indicate the way in which the wind is blowing in Gujarat. 59% of the respondents preferred the BJP over 29% who wished to see Congress return to power. In spite of him being a pale shadow of Narendra Modi, CM Vijay Rupani enjoys the support of 24% of the respondents. The top response getter from Congress gathered 2 % of responses. Patidar leader, Hardik Patel, OBC/SC/ST leader Alpesh Thakore and Dalit leader, Jignesh Mevlani, while immensely popular in their own caste groups, tend to be viewed suspiciously by other castes, which can help the BJP. BJP is also miles ahead of the Congress in terms of getting support from various communities. Only for Dalits and Muslims does the Congress score better, but here too the BJP has narrowed Congress’s lead. If Lokniti-CSDS survey is anything to go by, Amit Shah’s mission 150+ for Gujarat BJP is sure to be met.

That having been said, even a week is a long day in politics and Gujarat elections are still months away.


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