BJP workers celebrate their victory in the Assembly elections, at the party office Gandhinagar, December 19(PTI)
BJP workers celebrate their victory in the Assembly elections, at the party office Gandhinagar, December 19(PTI)

The inability to move mass leaders up the party ranks has been a problem for the Congress

Things suddenly look a lot more challenging for the BJP. In 2018, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan will go to the polls. If rural anger was great in Gujarat, this anger is likely to be even greater in those states — where rural distress has been well-documented
By Ashish Ranjan and Neelanjan Sircar
UPDATED ON DEC 19, 2017 01:03 PM IST

The Gujarat election was supposed to be little more than a victory parade for the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi brashly declared, “I am vikas (development). I am Gujarat.” Before the election, everything seemed to be going the BJP’s way — a hugely popular prime minister from the state and a thumping victory in Uttar Pradesh, not to mention the fact that BJP has ruled Gujarat for 22 years running while never winning less than 115 out of 182 seats. Although a section of supporters will be relieved that the BJP held on to power, the party clearly expected bigger things out of Gujarat (at one point predicting that they will go above 150 seats). Instead, this election unearthed serious chinks in BJP’s armour and returned the lowest seat share for the BJP in Gujarat since 1990. A precocious Hardik Patel morphed what began as a caste movement (the Patidar agitation) into a class movement around the concerns of small traders, the working class, and the rural poor. Yes, the BJP won in Gujarat, but these class concerns promise to be a thorn in the side of the party for the next couple of years.

Using data provided by Hindustan Times (HT) data team as of 2:50pm on December 18, in which the BJP was projected to win 100 seats and the Congress 77 seats, we may characterise some of the trends observed in this election. This is a fairly substantial drop from the 115 seats won in 2012, especially when one considers that the number of seats won by the BJP have been remarkably stable since 1995 — from a maximum of 127 (2002) to a minimum of 115 (2012).

The most obvious implication of the class character of BJP’s opposition is a starker rural-urban divide. The BJP won 50 (89%) out of the 56 constituencies classified as urban by HT in 2012, and it didn’t do much worse this time around, as it was projected to win 46 (82%) of those seats. The rural constituencies saw a much greater shift. In 2012, the BJP won 65 (52%) of the 126 seats classified as urban by HT, but this dropped significantly to 54 (43%) this time around.

But this rural disenchantment was quite uneven by region. As we reported in earlier work, the rural anger did not extend to South Gujarat where the predominant crop, sugarcane, did not face the same drops in market prices as the most prevalent crops, cotton and groundnut, in other regions. Much of the observed shift seems have occurred in the Saurashtra region, where the BJP won 30 (63%) out of the 48 seats in 2012 but only 19 (40%) this time around. Even in North Gujarat, where the Congress had purportedly gained a lot of ground, saw similar results to 2012. In 2012, the BJP won 15 (47%) of 32 seats, and it was projected to win the same number of seats this time around. One hypothesis is that Saurashtra faced severe reduction in market prices for key crops without the proximity to the most major cities such as Ahmedabad, Surat, or Vadodara to anchor BJP support.

While the Congress will take comfort from this election, it has much work to do. Over the past few years, the Congress has largely being reacting to Narendra Modi and the BJP, essentially letting their opponents set the terms of debate. This has robbed the Congress of a cogent party identity, but this election offers a big opportunity. The class anger with the BJP is very real, and it is only likely to grow unless the BJP makes changes in policy. On the other hand, the main thrust of the mobilisation occurred through a leader, Hardik Patel, outside of the Congress. The inability to move mass leaders up the party ranks has been a chronic problem for the Congress. Ultimately, the Congress must answer some questions. Can it develop a cogent party identity to take advantage of the genuine class anger with the BJP? Furthermore, can the Congress develop the kind of mass leaders within the party to mobilise around this class anger?

Things suddenly look a lot more challenging for the BJP. In the next year, the states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan will go to the polls. If rural anger was great in Gujarat, this anger is likely to be even greater in those states — where rural distress has been well-documented. A promise of loan waivers did little to bolster the BJP’s standing with farmers, and Prime Minister Modi is almost certainly looking for that next “big bang” reform to win the rural countryside back. As we hit the stretch run to the national election, things have become a little more interesting — 2019 may be back in play for the Congress.

Ashish Ranjan is a Research Fellow at the Trivedi Centre for Political Data at Ashoka University. Neelanjan Sircar is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research.

The views expressed are personal

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Elections in Kerala are punctuated by several controversies, both past and present (File Photo)
Elections in Kerala are punctuated by several controversies, both past and present (File Photo)

Espionage to smuggling, scandals spice up every poll in Kerala

By Ramesh Babu, Thiruvanathapuram
PUBLISHED ON MAR 03, 2021 07:26 PM IST
  • controversies and scandals were part of the state polity in the last three decades and mushrooming digital media also played its part in amplifying them, said a political observer.
Close
The 1962 baggage at the turn of century was such that for 40 years, subsequent governments did not dare build border roads on the ground that these could be used by the Chinese army to enter the hinterland in case of a conflict.(PTI)
The 1962 baggage at the turn of century was such that for 40 years, subsequent governments did not dare build border roads on the ground that these could be used by the Chinese army to enter the hinterland in case of a conflict.(PTI)

Why 2021 political rhetoric is no match for 1962 fighting in Ladakh

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 02:15 PM IST
  • India and China came close to war last year after Indian army commanders atop Rezang La-Rechin La ridge threatened to fire at the advancing PLA tank regiment that sought to dislodge the Indian troopers.
Close
Approximately half of the countries use population for delimitation, while another third use registered voters. Nowhere is it based on area and for good reasons (HTPHOTO)
Approximately half of the countries use population for delimitation, while another third use registered voters. Nowhere is it based on area and for good reasons (HTPHOTO)

J&K delimitation: Go by the population rule

By Haseeb Drabu
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:39 PM IST
Having already decided on the number of electors as well as the number of elected, the only part of delimitation that has been left to the Commission is the electoral cartography — the redrawing of boundaries and enclosing people within the constituency framework. Notwithstanding these debilitating infirmities in the context of J&K, the redrawing of the constituencies is an extraordinarily complex and highly contentious exercise. It can potentially alter the electoral demographic balance.
Close
Representational image. (AFP)
Representational image. (AFP)

Congress needs to worry more about rebels than opponents in Puducherry

By Abhishek Jha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:32 PM IST
The only time the Congress has lost Puducherry, it has been because of a rebel. The Congress and DMK together have won over 50% seats in every assembly elections in Puducherry since 1980, except in 2011
Close
At a January meeting to review projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed displeasure at the process-driven bureaucracy (ANI)
At a January meeting to review projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed displeasure at the process-driven bureaucracy (ANI)

Behind PM Modi’s stinging critique of the IAS, a Jan meeting holds the clue

By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 17, 2021 09:35 AM IST
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given bureaucrats an earful at a January meeting of the country's top officials and underlined the price that India paid for their slow pace.
Close
PM Narendra Modi was emotional while giving a farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad from Rajya Sabha.
PM Narendra Modi was emotional while giving a farewell to Ghulam Nabi Azad from Rajya Sabha.

Salute to Ghulam Nabi Azad underlined PM Modi’s personal ties with rivals

By Saubhadra Chatterji | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2021 03:37 PM IST
  • Leaders from the Congress and other Opposition parties have many stories to show that the Prime Minister has maintained personal rapport with leaders cutting across political boundaries.
Close
Officials carry out search and rescue operation at Tapovan Tunnel, after a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river on Sunday. (File photo)
Officials carry out search and rescue operation at Tapovan Tunnel, after a glacier broke off in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district causing a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river on Sunday. (File photo)

Not just climate change, Chamoli disaster was human-induced

UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2021 12:15 PM IST
Stone quarrying, blasting of mountains and digging of tunnels in the base of the mountain system for two dams on Rishi Ganga and Dhauli Ganga rivers played havoc with the local ecology
Close
In this file photo, a man hangs on to pole holding a Sikh religious flag along with a farm union flag at the historic Red Fort monument during a farmers protest against new farm laws in New Delhi(AP)
In this file photo, a man hangs on to pole holding a Sikh religious flag along with a farm union flag at the historic Red Fort monument during a farmers protest against new farm laws in New Delhi(AP)

Perception is the truth in information warfare over farm laws

By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi, Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON FEB 04, 2021 01:42 PM IST
  • The Chinese were among the first to recognise the role of information warfare to weaken the adversary from within
Close
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. (Ajay Aggarwal /HT PHOTO)

A new confidence about India reflects in a bold Budget 2021

By Monika Halan
UPDATED ON FEB 01, 2021 09:59 PM IST
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has chosen to spend on generating future income using the higher capital spending, which has gone up by 35.4% over the previous year
Close
Shaibal Gupta also made a pioneering contribution in explaining the historical roots and the evolution of Bihar’s politics, which have today become the staple of everyday political analysis. (FACEBOOK)
Shaibal Gupta also made a pioneering contribution in explaining the historical roots and the evolution of Bihar’s politics, which have today become the staple of everyday political analysis. (FACEBOOK)

The life and times of a Patna intellectual

UPDATED ON JAN 31, 2021 06:20 AM IST
Shaibal Gupta was rooted and cosmopolitan; idealistic and pragmatic; and an insider and outsider — all at the same time. Patna’s public life will not the same without him.
Close
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar's address on India-China ties is a reminder to Beijing that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian powers is not a one-way street.(AP/File)
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar's address on India-China ties is a reminder to Beijing that the bilateral relationship between the two Asian powers is not a one-way street.(AP/File)

Jaishankar yellow-cards China for violating pacts, spells out the India way

By Shishir Gupta, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2021 03:02 PM IST
  • S Jaishankar’s speech on India-China ties signals India’s determination to continue to stand up to Xi Jinping’s expansionist plans for Asia as an equal and makes it clear that nothing that Beijing does against India will be overlooked, or allowed to go unpunished.
Close
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, in Chiba, Japan, June 18, 2015 (REUTERS)
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, in Chiba, Japan, June 18, 2015 (REUTERS)

Jack Ma story: China’s deep strategic ambition

By Manoj Kewalramani
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2021 04:50 AM IST
This statist vision of the future is very different from the government creating a level-playing field for private capital to compete and the market to do its job. It is about the State guiding capital and private entities towards what it believes are national strategic priorities, rather than allowing them to simply focus on generating greater revenue.
Close
A Nihang Sikh aboard a horse inside Red Fort on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
A Nihang Sikh aboard a horse inside Red Fort on Tuesday.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Republic Day raid was pre-meditated, planned well in advance

UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 02:17 PM IST
With Delhi Police under firm orders not to open fire, the armed Nihang Sikhs provided the cover for the tractors to roll towards Red Fort.
Close
A video of an unruly tractor moving waywardly towards police personnel at ITO emerged on Tuesday as farmers protesting against farm laws deviated from their route and moved inside the Capital.
A video of an unruly tractor moving waywardly towards police personnel at ITO emerged on Tuesday as farmers protesting against farm laws deviated from their route and moved inside the Capital.

How unruly farmers tried to embarrass India on Republic Day

UPDATED ON JAN 27, 2021 02:09 PM IST
The tractor-borne unruly farmers were minutes away from India Gate when they were blocked by New Delhi Range police.
Close
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
How do we address this cyclical pattern of hailing and rubbishing financiers? It is time for an honest review of the entire issue (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The policy landscape around digital and physical micro-lending

By Amol Agrawal
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:08 AM IST
In 1870s, a similar backlash emerged in Poona and Ahmednagar districts of the Bombay presidency. The agriculture boom in the early 1860s led farmers to take loans from moneylenders
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP