Will Gujarat do the unthinkable?

Gujarat today has become the focal point of discussions. Entire country is curiously waiting to see what the churning cauldron throws out. Amidst claims and counter claims, it is the 6 crore Gujaratis who are set to change Gujarat’s political landscape and perhaps India’s. Gujarat has historically been in forefront of massive political changes directly or indirectly. Right from overthrow of British empire with two exquisite Gujarati leaders Gandhi and Sardar, right until today with another duo of Modi and Shah. Relatively peaceful and business minded Gujaratis have produced some earth shattering agitations from Dandi yatra to Navnirman to Patidar reservation agitation over time. Gujarat has been instrumental in bringing revolutionary change in prevailing political climate of India.
Once again today, Gujarat is standing at the crossroads of a major change in architecture of Indian politics. With advent of BJP, the fledgling Congress rule saw fortunes changing and with Modi’s rise post 2002, Congress saw the bottom of their existence. 15 years later, it is Gujarat again that has indicated another change in fortunes. Invincible Modi-Shah pair is staring down the barrel of a gun that may deliver the bullet of defeat right In their home turf. The unthinkable is beginning to shape up. To understand this, a glance back at Gujarat’s political history briefly is required. Born in 1960, Gujarat saw various political equations nestling under erstwhile leadership between Congress and Janata Parivaar’s recycled avatars.
Gujaratis have typically shown extreme temperament in both liking and disliking their choice of political parties. Conventionally a two party state, Gujarat has never taken to any third or even regional party. Gujarat has always been connected with national parties with a strong local leadership. The state has refused to be an underdog of Centre. (This is where Modi won before and failing now)
Gujarat has embraced leader and party wholeheartedly. From Gandhi to Madhavsinh Solanki to Narendra Modi. Gujarat has thrown out the same beloved leader too when they have been disappointed. Whenever Gujaratis have felt that power has become arrogant, heady and autocratic, they have dethroned the power vehemently and with a vengeance. The most successful Congress under Solanki fell from grace and is tadipaar for nearly 25 years now. Gujaratis loved BJP and married Modi giving unrequited love.
12 years of CM Modi and 3 and half years of PM Modi has found this marriage on the rocks. Like a relationship gone sour, Gujaratis are hurt and when one among the two decide to break up, it’s only a matter of time before it gets finally over.
Gujarat is seeking ‘Parivartan’ now. Question is only time. The relationship is damaged already, trust is gone. What remains now is when and not if.
Most political observers compare BJP’s fall directly in proportion to Congress’ chance of winning. They’re blind in seeing the sentiment of average Gujarati, that is of change. They will go for any option but want BJP out.
The main reason is, the longer a party remains in power, complacency sets in followed by arrogance,
After Madhavsinh and Congress era people saw hope in a new hero Modi and fell for him big time like how Gujaratis conventionally do, head over heels. Modi had unquestioned support long enough for expectations reaching sky high. Modi remained undisputed leader and crowd puller for long. Today Modi is in Delhi and his local leadership Vijay Rupani, Anandiben, Nitin Patel, Jitu Vaghani can’t fill ins boots. The enamoured Gujarati is disappointed. I wrote back in October how people still love Modi but they know their votes will not bring Modi back to Gujarat. So a vote for Modi gets them Amit Shah or Rupani or any XYZ that doesn’t quench their thirst. So Modi may campaign 24/7, the final outcome is known to Gujarati voter that the aircraft that brings Modi to Gujarat will take him back to Delhi at dusk. So what’s the point.
This dawn of enlightenment shows in rallies now. BJP’s rallies don’t attract crowds. Even PM Modi struggles to attract crowds now. All those who are with Modi and BJP are TV, Print media owners and editors. Social Media and Janata aren’t with them any more.
The blame squarely sits on BJP’s head for this. Biggest advantage of the situation is taken by Amit Shah. In MOdi’s absence Shah did everything to unseat Anandiben. He funded, supported agitations small or big. He was instrumental in crating a rift between people and government. Corruption scandals of BJP tumbled out with his consent or instigation to destabilise rivals within the party. Whatever Shah did to escape fake encounter cases, from law enforcement authorities to media management. All this was under the watchful eyes of people. People could see this was happening either with Modi’s consent or ignorance. 2015 local body polls post Patidar agitation was the beginning of BJP’s downfall in Gujarat. BJP couldn’t see the lost love in people’s eyes when they stooped as low as to stone pelting at Rahul Gandhi’s car when he visited flood stricken Banaskantha. If BJP had paid attention to pulse of people then, perhaps they would’ve been able to get control back. Next sign was Amit Shah’s function in Surat which was a major fiasco that stopped him right in his tracks to start preparing for Gujarat polls in about a year. What Modi is facing today could well be attributed to Amit Shah’s shenanigans post 2014.
Today BJP can control media but they have lost social media. People report their lies, propaganda immediately on SM. The legacy that Modi left, Shah squandered it, Anandiben lost even the reputation and whatever was left is finished by Rupani. Rupani can’t take a single decision without calling Shah every morning. He is known in Gujarat as ‘Paani vagar na Rupani’ (Paani is water in Gujarati)
If PM Modi and BJP manage to scrape through this election by hook or crook, the fractured landscape will not survive more than another term.
In a nutshell the BJP’s liability can be summarised like this:
– PM didn’t fulfil promises
– Corruption by Gujarat BJP leaders worsened
– BJP’s own Vanshvaad, nepotism
– Vendetta politics
– Fake propaganda of vikas
– Arrogance of BJP’s top leadership
– Not enough help in disasters and calamities
– Farmers distress and insensitivity of Modi government
– Vehement attack on dissent
– No accountability in governance
– Political horse trading to deal with own failures and undermining democracy
– Assembly seats sold for crores of rupees