Gujarat Local Body Polls: Seven Key Takeaways From BJP’s Stunning Electoral Triumph
For one, the Patels of Gujarat have announced loudly, that they are back where they belong – with the BJP.
As results of the local panchayat elections start pouring out in Gujarat, the verdict is the same in ward after ward, village after village, taluka after taluka, and district after district: a massive, majestic sweep by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It is a mirror image of the metropolitan election results of a week previously, when the BJP swept every single one of the six corporations on offer in the state, by astounding margins.
The implications of these corporation and panchayat election results are numerous, profound, and far-reaching.
First and foremost, the back of a sinister Patidar agitation has been broken. The Patels of Gujarat have announced loudly, that they are back where they belong – with the BJP.
A lot of the credit has to go to the unassuming duo of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who quietly weathered that unconscionable caste storm, and stuck to their party’s core values of pluralism and development.
Perhaps this was the only response possible, for a state which had suffered terribly in the past from that notorious KHAM theory (This was a plan devised by the Congress’s Madhavsinh Solanki in the 1980s, which sought to divide Gujarati society and create four vote banks – Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim – which would keep the Congress in power for ages to come; instead, the Congress was wiped out in the 1990 assembly elections).
Second, the AIMIM of Asaddudin Owaisi has picked up wards in Muslim-dominant localities. This is a continuation of an ongoing national trend, wherein pockets of the Muslim community express their disgust with the Congress electorally, at having been used as a vote bloc for so long, with no benefits, yet with all the stigma of the ages.
Politically, we may treat this as a transition phase, during which the Congress loses out on their traditional vote banks, and gains further electoral irrelevance, while the Muslim community strives to discard their Ashrafi shackles, and somehow finally joins the mainstream. We saw it in Bihar before, we see it happening in Gujarat now, and we will see it in West Bengal next month.
Third, Hardik Patel has been shown his place by his own community, who expressed their disaffection for such insidious, divisive caste politics the only way they know how – by the vote.
These election results make it clear that the reckless agitprop face of the Patidar upheaval, head of the Congress in Gujarat, and Rahul Gandhi’s blue-eyed boy, will have to devise a fresh schema if he and his party are to avert political oblivion. Caste politics won’t work in this state.
Fourth, activist and MLA Jignesh Mewani’s efforts, to divide the electorate along Dalit lines, too have run miserably aground. The epicentre of Mewani’s Warholian rise was a manufactured outrage on alleged anti-Dalit atrocities in the small coastal town of Una, near Diu, on the southern tip of the Kathiwar peninsula. As this piece goes to print, the BJP is leading in most of the wards in Una.
Fifth, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) has registered a peripheral presence in these local body polls. Its leader, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, was thrilled enough to fly down to Surat and congratulate his troops, because they are now the main opposition in Surat Municipal Corporation (not by much, though, as they won less than 20 per cent of the city’s wards).
But a little analysis reveals that exuberant crowing by the AAP, about their political arrival in Gujarat, might be premature, since the few wards they have won, are in what one would euphemistically call ‘demographically-expedient’ localities, which used to vote for the Congress.
If anything, it only shows, like with the rise of the AIMIM, how inveterate anti-BJP voters across the country are slowly but surely junking the Congress as a viable political option.
Sixth, the assiduously-manufactured agitation over the farm bills has run into a wall. There were enough commentators who leapt to argue that the Congress’s sweep of local bodies in The Punjab was a vote against the farm bills. What will those erudite commentators say now, as the magnitude of the BJP’s sweep in Gujarat becomes increasingly apparent?
Your writer’s prediction is that there will now be a flurry of long pieces by the Lutyens jamaat, which invoke postmodernist arguments to differentiate between the agricultural sector of Gujarat, and The Punjab.
Well, they can but try.
And seventh, these local body results are a stinging riposte to the Congress Party’s Rahul Gandhi, who had the temerity to recently declare in Assam, that higher wages for tea estate workers in the Brahmaputra Valley would come from the pockets of the merchants of Gujarat.
Hopefully, and for the sake of some much-needed maturity in our polity, he may now learn that pitting state against state for electoral gain is an unconscionable act.
Thus, the primary takeway, from the Gujarat Corporation and panchayat elections, is that the average Indian is becoming increasingly able to see through concocted agitations, and grasp the true perils of militant activism.
This is not to say that they will not vote out the BJP some day, but they will do so only for demonstrable reasons of maladministration, and not for the false bleats of falser victimhoods.
But until then, and for the moment, it is the BJP which has secured the mandate at every single tier of the administrative ladder – from the village, to the taluka, to the district, to the metropolis, to the state, and to the nation.
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