Bhupendra Patel remains a die-hard Narendra Modi admirer and also an efficient Chief Minister. Modi remains BJP’s star face and it was purely his ‘mass appeal’ that helped it brave the 22-year-old anti-incumbency in Gujarat though its number of seats dropped from 116 in 2012 to 99 in 2017.
Bharat no longer has a person worthy of the personality and mass appeal of Narendra Modi, the same person who took Gujarat first by storm 20 years ago in 2002 and then subsequently in 2007 and 2012 is now the Prime Minister of India. The ship captain for BJP in Gujarat now is Bhupendra Patel – a low profile and first time legislator whose elevation as Chief Minister in 2021 September had surprised friends and foes alike.
After his swearing in as he took charge, associates and officials started referring him as the CM. Patel later said, “I presume the abbreviation CM should better make sense for the phrase ‘common man’.”
Mentored By PM
This concept clicked. Mentored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his initial days of political career, Bhupendra Patel has aptly developed a signature style of his own. This factor is important for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the upcoming election in Gujarat is certainly crucial. This is Modi’s home State. Fortunately, Bhupendra Patel has fewer enemies even amongst the Opposition camp and his administration has been fairly efficient.
Gujarat made record in COVID vaccine doses
When COVID-19 vaccination campaign was at its peak both globally and in India, Gujarat had recorded 180 vaccine doses for every 100 persons. Countries such as the United States, France, Germany and Canada were behind Gujarat’s record.
The figures stood as – 138.4 doses per 100 Eligible Population: in US, 153.6 doses in Germany, 166.9 doses in France and 148.8 in Switzerland. The best figures globally had come out from the Netherlands at 168.8.
The single biggest take away of 2002 to 2017 polls is that in Gujarat, the ‘Moditva magic’ works for the BJP. The ‘Moditva’ as a brand thrived in the year 2017 and it made ground in the 2019 Parliamentary elections as well. The outcome of Gujarat elections in 2017 left a few crucial political lessons.
Modi’s Charisma Works During Hustings
For the Bharatiya Janata Party, Modi remains its star face and it was purely his ‘mass appeal’ that mattered a lot. This successfully helped BJP brave the 22-year-old anti-incumbency in Gujarat though its number of seats dropped from 116 in 2012 to 99 in 2017.
Electorally since 1995, the middle class and also other socially crucial and vulnerable sections in the Western State have been voting en masse for the BJP. Six years before Narendra Modi took over the leadership in Gujarat in 2001, the saffron party has never lost Gujarat election.
State That Delivers Its Promises
It is often debated whether the State should be bogged down by vote-bank politics. But a section of the middle class perceived Shri Modi as the super-Chief Executive Officer because he during his Chief Ministership, “functioned like a modern-day CEO laying emphasis on the outcome”. This image persists as Gujarat is still known as a State that ‘delivers’ notwithstanding the fact that the same Government rules and the same bureaucracy works for the masses. Elections are always linked to political rivalry. In Gujarat this year, AAP is in the scene as a new ‘outsider party’ trying to make a foray, while the Congress has almost vanished from the campaign scene.
The BJP leaders are focused on the election campaign but are largely laying emphasis on the positive aspects of their performance during the last three decades. “A positive and forward-looking stance will always have a better impact on the people,” one key leader told Organiser.
Hence, the focus is on multi-pronged developmental works and welfarism. “Welfare measures are now being taken beyond the minimum firewall. In every sphere efforts are on for improved facilities. For instance in the health sector, For the first time in the country, Gujarat has planned to make available 108 ambulance services to the citizens in case of emergency. The State Government has also introduced a system under which Rs 55,000 would be levied per hour if an air ambulance is ordered by a hospital,” says an official.
He further explains – “In the latest budget allocation, a total of 5.6 per cent of the share of the total expenditures of the State is earmarked for health. The result is win-all”.
The Congress still remains a struggling outfit trying to brave through the multiple crises it is faced with since 2014 at the national level. On the other hand, the Delhi-based AAP has serious credibility questions especially in the light of various corruption allegations
Gujarat’s developmental works in infrastructures and welfare measures including core health sector are not only unique on several fronts, but they are also done in style.
Women Making A Mark At Grassroots
In another realm of credible work, today, every Gram Panchayat has women representatives including many sarpanchs. In Gujarat, the total number of women panchayat representatives is more than male representatives. It goes without stating that ‘monetary support’ to women, especially in rural Gujarat, has played a crucial role in the growth of economic activities.
In Gujarat, the enrolment ratio of girls in primary education has been on constant rise. In 2018-19, it was 88.5 per cent and this has shot up to 90.5 per cent by 2019-20. Take a few more projects and the uniqueness has been path-breaking.
A brainchild of Shri Modi, the Dholera Project is the perfect initiative to combat urbanisation issues and a key investment option for all sorts of investors. Encompassing an area of 920 square kilometres, the Dholera project is being developed with active support of the State Government and enhanced involvement of the corporate sector. In short, the Dholera Project shall be a home to millions of people in search of affordable housing and thousands of companies looking for a place to establish and expand their businesses. The proximity that Dholera SIR Project shares with the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) makes the location even more desirable making it a potential global trading and manufacturing hub. In terms of campaign strategy, the BJP’s poll managers will be soon promoting the message that economic growth and greater social justice and welfare of the poor have been achieved at a State level along with the tackling of corruption.
Opposition Still Struggling
On the other hand, for both the Congress and the AAP, there is lack of political ground works and the crucial networking at the grassroots level.
Irrespective of the December results in Gujarat, the Congress still remains a struggling outfit trying to brave through the multiple crises it is faced with since 2014 at the national level. On the other hand, the Delhi-based AAP has serious credibility questions especially in the light of various corruption allegations and cases related to money laundering and excise policy.
From its past experience, the Congress should draw lessons that while Rahul Gandhi is attracting people for his Bharat Jodo Yatra, these are happening miles away from Gujarat. Why Rahul has kept a safe distance from Gujarat leaving the Opposition space to AAP is a mystery.
Ilyas Quershi, a Congress office bearer in Ahmedabad, tries to understand the polity and says, “Yes, We are working hard. We have to work harder till the end”. Importantly yet again two Important caste leaders Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor, who were with the Congress, are now with the saffron party.