New Delhi/Ahmedabad : In 2002, Narendra Modi was impossible to ignore. In 2022 — twenty years after – he is still impossible to ignore, and in the Indian subcontinent’s politics for the next few years, Modi will never be out of the news. And that too as a catalyst of development and a strong proponent of the Hindutva brand of nationalistic politics. A jubilant Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel should send a bouquet to Arvind Kejriwal for contesting and campaigning hard in Gujarat; he must also thank Rahul Gandhi for staying away from Gujarat.
These might have made a combo — a delicious recipe for the Gujarat voters to embrace the Moditva much more enthusiastically, preparing the ground for the 2024 parliamentary polls when their favourite folk hero Namo will try for a hat-trick at the national level. While analysts and ivory tower TV experts focused on Patidar voters and other intellectual analyses like giving hyped importance to the AAP factor, the ruling BJP focused on women empowerment and this section, either Patidars or non-Patidars, changed the entire game.
A crucial message from the 2022 mandate in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh also suggests that ‘Revdi’ — freebies culture — succeeds in Delhi or Punjab. Still, it cannot do so in Gujarat or the rest of India. Therefore the rhetoric assertion is -Modi’s Gujarat and the ‘new India’ also mean giving importance to talent, skills and labour. Everyone may not agree, but this growing phenomenon has slowly started to discard the politics of dynastic rights and preferences, say BJP booth workers. The BJP is undoubtedly more than delighted, and this will give them a significant advantage for the 2024 polls in terms of Modi’s magical vote-gathering power.
The just concluded polls and next year’s elections in three northeastern states, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and also Mizoram and three agrarian states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and also in Karnataka will set the ball rolling for 2024 general elections that will decide the fate of nationalists, BJP.
It will also decide the outcome of the politics of the likes of Chandrababu Naidu, K Chandrashekhar Rao, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and even Rahul Gandhi.
Many BJP workers said a straightforward message from Gujarat in 2022 is that the government should be people-centric. It is also essential to develop a culture of hard work and help vulnerable sections like women. Days of free lunch for some and government Babus, their wives, children, dogs and cronies are over. If at all, there are some, these too would fade away soon.
Two decades back, In 2002, ‘India Today’ wrote — “Narendra Damodardas Modi shocks India. And how. Look at him; look at him up close. For so long, he was just another politician. Then one day, he was just another Chief Minister. Today, he is just Modi. What’s in a surname?” Some people could still write these lines and wonder at the magic of Moditva.
AAP myth explodes:
The polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were a significant setback for AAP, which could win only six seats in Gujarat after the unrest. It also scored a big zero in Himachal Pradesh.
No sooner the results came in than social media postings went viral. Some sounded caustic but realistic — Freebies – the ‘revdi’ culture could work in Delhi and Punjab, but it does not work elsewhere. Thus, the big – but ambitious’ dream of Kejriwal and his colleague Manish Sisodia to emerge as significant opposition leaders at the national level for the 2024 battle has come to a cropper. The Aam Aadmi Party, which was basking on the MCD win, has been once again told by the faceless Indian electorate that it was still a Delhi-based party. And Punjab story could be seen as a mix of an accidental win and an outcome of a catastrophic way Congress handles things.
Percentage-wise breaks up of results both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh is also crucial. The BJP vote share was 53.03, a significant jump from 49.05% in 2017 in Gujarat. For Congress, it was a nosedive fall from 41.44% five years back to 27.04%. AAP gained 12.80 percent; hence, the analysts have proved right that the Ke’jriwals party has damaged the grand old party the most. The Congress drop in the number of seats was stupendous and worst in its record for Gujarat — 77 to a humble 19. But it was still too early to say that Gujarat polity has opened a door for a third front.
Never in the past, too, any third front could emerge as a viable force in Gujarat. Shankersinh Vaghela launched Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), and Keshubhai Patel floated Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP). In 1998, RPP won only four seats. The GPP fought the 2012 polls and won only two seats. The AAP’s tally is slightly better at 6. In the 2017 assembly election, the AAP contested 29 seats and could manage only 0.10 per cent of the vote share.
Stability and Defection:
How things pan out in Himachal Pradesh vis-a-vis the formation of the new government will be interesting. The Congress has emerged as the single largest party and has crossed the majority mark by winning 39 seats. But it is too close to the magic figure of 35. The BJP has won 26, and if three others support it, the tally will be 29, which is too close to the 34-35 mark.
In terms of vote shares, notwithstanding the hype created by Left-liberal English media and the fact that Himachal is the next-door neighbour of Punjab, the AAP could Bag only 1.08 percent of votes. For Congress, the vote share in 2022 was 43.6, slightly more than 41.7 in 2017. The BJP came much closer to the saffron party, winning 43.3 percent, but that was a drop of about 4.5 per cent — from 48.8% in 2017. This made all the difference in the number of seats.
Five years back, BJP had won 44, and the Congress had only won 21.
BJP humbled AAP’s so-called chief ministerial face Isudan Gadhvi rather convincingly. Ayar Mulubhai Hardasbhai Bera polled 61,781 percent of votes, while Isudan Gadhvi of AAP finished second with 44 589 votes, and Vikrambhai Arjanbhai Maadam of Congress finished third with 36,345 votes.
For BJP, 155 haul is a record. Madhavsinh Solanki had managed to win 149 in the 182-member assembly in 1985 when the Congress hugely dominated politics. The BJP’s best performance so far was in 2002, when it won 127, which elevated Narendra Modi as a formidable player in state and national politics.