Skip to main content

BJP's Hindutva sway on Gujarat urban voters main reason for Congress "defeat", despite impressive rural gain

By Our Representative
The Gujarat state assembly polls, which saw the BJP's tally come down to 99 from 115 in 2012, has shown that,/while the Congress has been able to "catch" the wrath of the rural voters, it failed to impress the urban citizens. According to one estimate, out of 55 urban seats, Congress won just 12, while BJP won 43. On the other hand, in the rural areas, out of 127 seats, BJP won 57 seats, while the Congress won 71.
In fact, during the campaign, Congress was virtually not visible in most of the state's urban areas, whose middle class voters, especially those belonging to the majority community, appeared pretty "impressed" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to placate his predecessor Manmohan Singh and former vice president Mohd Hamid Ansari for the dinner-meeting held at Congress MP Manishankar Aiyar's residence in honour of ex-Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.
In fact, there was a sense of shock and disbelief among these sections, especially when Modi talked of Pakistani hand in Gujarat elections, and the denials issued by Singh, Kasuri -- long known as a dove -- and another participant, former army chief General Deepak Kapoor, did not seem to impress them.
The middle classes seemed to care little even after it was revealed by an insider that the dinner was held because Kasuri was in town to attend a wedding, that Kasuri and Aiyar were friends and colleagues in Cambridge in 1960s, and that Gujarat did not figure during the discussions.
Said a senior BJP leader, this one remark on Pakistani connection with Gujarat polls, also picked up other BJP leaders, including finance minister Arun Jaitley, who sought an explanation from Congress on the meeting, helped Modi regain fringe urban voters, who appeared to be moving away from the party because of the double whammy of demonetization and Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The only sections that were not impressed were Muslims, and to some extent Dalits. Says Mujahid Nafees, a minority rights activist, "Muslims came out in huge numbers to vote for the Congress, unlike earlier when they would remain indifferent towards Congress, alleging that the party has done precious little for them." Not without reason, Congress' victory in three out four seats in Ahmedabad happened because of the crucial role of Muslim voters.
Yet, Hindutva seemed to rule top Gujarat cities. A voter, who happens to be a shopkeeper in Ahmedabad's Vejalpur constituency, which has a sizeable Muslim and Dalit population, told Counterview, "I remember the days when curfew would be imposed in our area on the drop of a hat. Though GST has hit me, things are peaceful under BJP, and I trust Modi."
Holding a similar view, textile traders in Surat have been quoted as saying that, despite being affected by GST, they would repose their faith in Mod because of his "ability to control riots", adding, after he took over in 2001, they could do business without any hurdle; in fact, they could bargain only with Modi and not with Congress, which seemed to only address "rural concerns."
A BJP leader admitted, “There was resentment over demonetization and GST among small traders. But the Centre moved swiftly two months ago, announcing relief measures GST structure. Also, the urban and semi-urban voter in Gujarat is by and large happy with the BJP governance in Gujarat."
At the same time, BJP leaders privately agreed that the party's victory in Gujarat is not worth celebrating. One of them has been quoted as saying that the BJP's victory is "as good as defeat", and had the Prime Minister not "carpet bombed" with his campaign starting with after November last week, and had "the last minute Congress faux pas not happened, they would have actually lost Gujarat."
Political commentator Sagarika Ghosh says, it is time when the Congress begins introspecting on "why it is losing urban India", adding, "That's because, unlike Modi, it fights shy of speaking an aspirational, business-friendly, growth-friendly language for fear of appearing pro-rich. Cong should instead adopt Manmohanomics!"
The view is strong, Modi’s "systematic infrastructural push in urban areas by constructing airports, roads and other public facilities still has a great appeal among voters". Says another commentator, "These are the people who have been the biggest beneficiaries of the so-called Gujarat model and have felt empowered with the new consumerist power they acquired because of the economic growth during Modi’s tenure as the chief minister."

Comments

TRENDING

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Is sacrilege charge against Punjab Dalits any different from Pak blasphemy cases?

Lakhbir Singh, his wife By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  There is no doubt that Sikhism actually was a revolt against the Brahmanical system and superstition. Guru Granth Saheb is perhaps the only Holy Book which contains matters from different religions as well as those of various Sufi saints, including Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid and others. The aim of Sikhism was to create an egalitarian society, and, definitely, Punjab that way is far better than many other States in India, where violence against Dalits is rampant.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.

How are Tripura Muslims responsible for attacks in Bangladesh?: 'Concerned' citizens

Counterview Desk  Calling it a “retaliation” of Bangladesh violence, several “concerned citizens”*, including Magsaysay award winning social activist and academic Sandeep Pandey and PV Rajagopal of the Sarvodaya Samaj, have said that the recent attacks on Muslim community in different areas of Tripura is a the reflection of “growing trend of using violence against another community.”

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn B'desh anti-minority violence

By Our Representative  Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.