ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Puzzle

BJP’s Sixth Victory in Gujarat

​The 2017 Gujarat assembly election revolved around Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was the main campaigner, and almost asked for a plebiscite—as the son of the soil. The Bharatiya Janata Party has managed to retain power, but the proportion of votes has reduced. Various agitations against the government in the last three years have not converted into votes in favour of opposition parties. The BJP’s party structure with committed cadres and aggressive campaign give it an advantage over the opposition parties.

 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in Gujarat in 1996 for the first time following L K Advani’s Somnath to Ayodhya Yatra in 1989, and the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992. In December 2017, it was its sixth consecutive victory in the assembly elections. Its vote share has increased by 1 percentage point since 2012. Its rival, the Congress party, gained 2 percentage point votes more than in the previous assembly elections. Comparing this assembly poll with the last Parliament elections in 2014, the BJP’s vote share has sharply declined from 59% to 49%, whereas the Congress gained 8.5 percentage points (Figure 1). During the 2014 Parliament elections, the BJP captured all 26 seats of Parliament with majority votes in 169 out of 182 assembly segments. Since 2002, all elections in Gujarat have been Narendra Modi-centric. During the last two elections in 2012 and 2014, he appealed to the voters, “every vote you cast for local BJP candidate is a vote for me” (Deshpande and Mehta 2014). Even though he did not say so explicitly, his 2017 campaign was a clear plebiscite on his performance as the Prime Minister.

Since 2009, Modi has successfully blurred the difference between the Gujarat state assembly and Parliament elections. After an impressive victory in the 2007 assembly elections, he initiated the process of becoming India’s Prime Minister. In early 2009, business tycoons hailed Modi as “the future Prime Minister.”1 Though Advani was BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 2009, a majority of the BJP voters preferred Modi over him. Despite their satisfaction with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s performance, the “Gujarati” held greater appeal than “development” and they voted for the BJP (Shah 2011). Voters judged the performance of the UPA in 2009, and Modi’s performance as the Prime Minister in 2017. The theme of vikas (development), Gujarati pride, and Hindutva dominated the election campaign.

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Updated On : 15th Jan, 2018

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