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

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

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.

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.