One of the most formidable Prime Minister of India belonging to an apparently invincible political party is facing stiff competition from the oft-portrayed weak opposition. Before rising to the supreme national position, Narendra Modi has been a three-term Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, where he elevated himself to significant popularity. Although his regime has been dented with the Gujarat riots of 2002 followed by Godhra train massacre, he projected himself as a “Vikas Purush” and started cosmopolitan programs such as “Pravasi Bhartiya” and “Vibratnt Gujarat” summits. He extrapolated the “Gujarat Model of development” which touched almost infrastructure, agriculture, education, urban development, etc., adding to the port-led prosperity of Gujarati community. He became one of the rare CMs who served a state for 12 years.
As the BJP government chose him to be the Prime Ministerial candidate, his unabashed popularity offered him a historical mandate in the Indian Parliament. Since then, his metaphoric speeches, charismatic appeal, strong leadership traits, innovative ideas, and revolutionary decision-making, and over-centralization has combined effects on the citizens of the country. Stunned and galvanized, people voted for the Bhartiya Janata Party incessantly in multiple State Assembly Elections and currently rules 13 states, some in form of coalition. The winning streak of BJP has been unprecedented and has had effects even on Municipal and Rajya Sabha by-elections. Shocking victory margins Uttar Pradesh elections and the Delhi Municipal elections serve as valid evidences. They have been perpetually looking forward to overwhelm the nation with the saffron footprint, strongly lashing out at the regional parties and opposition on every possible political front.
Nevertheless, BJP ruled India has seen some nefariously unpopular and economically unjustified activities. Cow vigilantism, mob violence, communal battle-mongering, unnecessary use of sloganeering (like “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”), attack on free speech, attempt to tinker with Right to Privacy of citizens, deplorable murder of writers, intolerant attitude of government, and other wasteful expenditure of the government scored them negative political points. Icing to the cake was Demonetization that virtually wreaked havoc on the nation for almost two months, as a result of which the Small and Medium Industries’ growth crashed and that took a toll on GDP growth rate. Private investment has slowed down, unemployment rates remain untouched, and multiple development schemes are yet to come to fruition.
— Vijay Chauthaiwale (@vijai63) October 18, 2017
Amidst mixed emotions regarding the Modi government, comes the Gujarat Assembly polls. As the Assembly tenure comes to an end in January 2018, the Election Commission is about to announce the dates soon. Since the incumbent party has been ruling the state since the year 2001, this election represents a prestige issue for the party. Several controversies such as Patidar agitation for reservation and the largest Dalit rally against exploitation and persecution have raked the present regime. Most notably, the BJP’s Chief Ministers both Anandiben Patel and Vinay Rupani haven’t handled the events diligently. Thus, a considerably large section of the Gujarat public is visibly dissatisfied.
Narendra Modi has already begun pitching hard for the fourth term to BJP government. He recently inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat, and loan offers at 0% interest rates are being offered to the farmers. Simultaneously, party’s chief strategist Amit Shah has begun applying his Kautilyan mind to win the elections by hook or crook. With the main opposition Congress lambasting the BJP on every move, severely criticizing them over economic and social statistics, it has started becoming a 50-50 game for both. The demography of the state might appear in the BJP’s favor; however, the present government’s past performances will not go non-scrutinized by the Gujarati public. All the rhetoric that didn’t come to reality has already started haunting the desperate BJP government.
Article by Mausam.