The Congress’ spectacular resurgence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state has exposed fault-lines in the much-vaunted Gujarat model of development and left the BJP with an uphill task of reconnecting with the voters, analysts said on Thursday,
The Congress not only swept rural Gujarat but also made visible dents in the BJP’s urban bastions in the local body elections, results of which were declared on Wednesday.
“The results show how the big industry-centric Gujarat development model has failed to reach to the grassroots,” political analyst Achyut Yagnik said.
He pointed out that while the Patidar community, one staunch supporters of the BJP, went against the ruling party over the quota agitation, the rural voters expressed their anger over different reasons.
“Rural Gujarat felt neglected over unsatisfactory support price for cash crops and lack of electricity,” he said, adding that they also felt betrayed when the government gave major sops to big industries but did not announce a special package following the devastating floods earlier this year.
For the record, the Congress won more than three-fourths of the district panchayats and 60% of the taluka panchayats besides significant number of seats in the urban areas.
The BJP manage to win all the six municipal corporations but not before ceding a lot of seats to the Congress. For example, in the 72-member Rajkot corporation, the party won with just 38 seats as against 34 by the Congress.
The local body election was the first major challenge for Anandiben Patel, a Patidar herself, after she took over as the chief minister following her predecessor Narendra Modi’s elevation as the Prime Minister.
Congress Gujarat president Bharatsinh Solanki said the party “won because we successfully lent voice to the problem of farmers and down-trodden communities.”
Though the BJP attributed the setback to the Patidar agitation – which had seen widespread violence recently – the party’s victory in the hometown of stir spearhead Hardik Patel went against this grain of thought, another political expert said.
The Congress did not make much inroad in Vadodara , Ahmedabad and Surat, the nerve-centre of the Patidar agitation.
Anandiben Patel said the BJP will have to analyse the reasons for its poor performance in the rural areas of the state.
But with assembly elections due in 2017, the political expert pointed out that the BJP has a mountain to climb to avoid another setback like in Bihar recently.