Skip to main content

Navsarjan Gujarat? Assembly elections saw Dalit-Adivasi-Muslim "anger" against BJP, some visible, some silent

By Martin Macwan*
Elections in Gujarat may be over, yet Navsarjan (resurgence, a term used by Congress during its electoral campaign) for Congress, and worries for BJP, appear to be far from over. Fighting as representatives of deprived communities, Alpesh Thakor, the well-known OBC leader who joined Congress ahead of the just-concluded Assembly polls, and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani, fighting as Congress-backed Independent, won with comfortable margin, despite aggressive and low level of campaign that the BJP undertook to defeat both.
Despite its tall claims of getting 150 seats, the BJP had to be content with less than 100 seats, even though it successfully ensured defection of 14 Congress MLAs during the Rajya Sabha elections this August. The operation is said to have been carried out by former BJP leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, who crossed over to Congress in late 1990s after splitting BJP in 1996. BJP hoped, Vaghela's influence would work, but it was unsuccessful. Several of these defectors contested this time on BJP symbol, but lost.
While it will take some time to ascertain the voter base lost by the BJP, the fact is, the Congress has snatched away 27 seats which were previously with the BJP, and the Congress, has lost 8 seats to the BJP.
Gujarat Assembly has 13 reserved seats for Scheduled Castes (SC) of which 10 were with the BJP in 2012. Congress has double its tally of SC reserved seats from 3 to 6. Indeed, BJP paid a price for the wounds it afflicted on Dalits, especially after the public flogging of Dalit youths at Una on July 11, 2016. Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, claiming to be a Dalit leader, unsuccessfully tried to help the BJP by describing Una as ‘not-so-serious’ incident. Yet, less than 7% Gujarat's Dalit population has made a visible political statement.
Notably, two BJP ministers on SC reserved seats -- Ramanlal Vora and and Atmaram Parmar -- lost as there was strong Dalit protest against them for ignoring Dalit interests and harassing Navsarjan Trust, the largest organization in Gujarat working on Dalit rights.
Gujarat Assembly has 26 reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes (STs). In 2012 Congress won 16, while the BJP won 9. One seat went to Chhotubhai Vasava contesting from undivided the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U). Vasava played the trumpcard during the crucial Rajya Sabha polls in August -- his sole vote ensured the victory of Congress leader Ahmed Patel after a whopping 14 MLAs left the Congress.
During the Assembly polls, the Congress allied with Vasava, who is no more with JD(U). This alliance helped Congress+ to increase its tally to 18, with the BJP losing two seats. There has been some change, too. Both the Congress and the BJP lost two of their previously held seats.
OBC leader Alpesh Thakore joining the Congress has been a gain for the party on other seats as well. Ganiben Thakore has created a stir by defeating BJP minister Shakersinh Choudhry. His Thakore Sena played an important role in helping Jignesh Mevani to win. Thakore votes have also helped the Congress win some other seats as well.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel has been able to make lesser impact. In Surat, where his roadshows were impressive, there has been no change, as all the seats have gone to the BJP. Some marginal impact can be seen in Saurashtra, though.
Though Muslims constitute about 8.5 percent population in Gujarat, the BJP maintained its tradition of not giving a single seat to them. It was looking for the slightest opportunity to trap the Congress with minority appeasement. The Congress stayed away from mentioning Muslims, but gave them five seats, one less than last time. Muslims have won three seats, a significant representation after a very long time.
The election campaign in Gujarat was launched accidentally with the slogan which went viral ‘vikas gando thayo chhe’ (development has gone crazy). Although it subdued after some time, it left the BJP speechless with little option but to officially defend "vikas. However, it was not successful in focusing its campaign on development and sidetracked to non-issues. There was uneasy calm that both the Congress and the BJP failed to sense. It was anger.
There was Dalit anger that was quite visible. There was Adivasi anger that was silent, and there was Muslim anger that was ignored. It was this Muslim-Adivasi-Dalit (MAD) factor that frustrated the BJP. It is a modified incarnation of the KHAM theory, floated in mid-1980s by the Congress, which created an alliance of Kshatiyas, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims.
Has Gujarat become a model for Navsarjan for India? One has to wait and see...
---
*Founder, Navsarjan Trust, Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was a 'frustrated' reformer who turned into a conservative

By Bhaskar Sur "If someone says the Manusamhita was written by all wise Manu and the principal scripture of the land and if he asks me to throw it away, I'll say it is nothing short of atrocious audacity." -- Iswarchandra Vidyasagar

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

2002 riots: Gujarat assembly 'misinformed' about dereliction of duty, says ex-DGP

By Rajiv Shah  Former Gujarat topcop RB Sreekumar, an IPS officer of the 1971 batch, has alleged that the Gujarat government gave “totally false information” on the floor of the State Assembly regarding the appeal he made to the Gujarat governor for the “initiation of departmental action against those responsible for culpable negligence in maintenance of public order and investigation of genocidal crimes” during the 2002 riots.

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.

Odisha bauxite mining project to 'devastate' life of 2,500 Adivasi, Dalit farmers: NAPM

Counterview Desk  While the public hearing on mining in Mali hills has been cancelled due to protests by Adivasi and Dalit farmers of the Mali Parbat Surakhya Samiti, Odisha, who have been protesting against the proposed bauxite mining project, India’s top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said it is “deeply concerned” at the decision of the Government of Odisha to push the project in a Schedule-V Adivasi-belt Koraput district against the interests of the people and environment.

Economy in tatters, labour codes 'take away' workers' safety, benefits, right to form TU

By Our Representative  The four new labour codes promulgated by the Government of India came in for sharp criticism from several labour unions and civil rights groups at one-day discussion meeting organised in Ranchi (Jharkhand) on the issue of ‘changes in labour laws. Participants in the meeting asserted that under these new codes, many of the benefits and safeties accorded to labourers have been "taken away", while the right of labourers to create trade unions has been attacked.

'Devastating impact': Rural workers suffer as Govt of India NREGA budget down by 34%

Counterview Desk  A civil rights group, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha has sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj stating that 34 per cent decrease in the fiscal budget of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) for year 2021-22 has added to woes on India’s rural population, already suffering from “devastating impact” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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".

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Politically-motivated: Global NGO network on ED 'harassment' of Harsh Mander

Counterview Desk  CIVICUS , a top global alliance of civil society organisations seeking to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world with a claimed membership of more than 10,000, objecting to the alleged harassment of IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander by the Government in India, has said that the the the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid on his house and office highlights “an ongoing pattern of baseless and politically-motivated criminal charges brought by the authorities against activists across India”.