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5 reasons why Gujarat election results went BJP’s way, from PM Modi’s campaign to Congress’s help

The Gujarat election results once again prove the effectiveness of BJP’s campaign strategy.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2017 17:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gujarat election results,Narendra Modi,BJP
BJP workers celebrate their party's victory in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, in Mumbai on Monday.(PTI)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) returned to power in Gujarat thanks to its strategy and some help from its chief rival. Here are five reasons for its success.

Narendra Modi’s popularity: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity remains undiminished in Gujarat even though his successors--first Anandiben Patel and now Vijay Rupani--had a rather dismal record as the state’s chief minister. Modi addressed 34 rallies in the state and was the single most important factor that helped the BJP to beat 22 years of anti-incumbency.

BJP’s superior strategy: A lot of planning went into the party’s poll preparations. Starting with engineering defections in the Congress camp that almost tripped senior party leader Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections in August, the BJP sought to clean up its own stable by denying tickets to about one-third of its unpopular legislators. When it realised that it could not take Patidars’ traditional loyalty to it for granted, it shifted focus on the other backward classes (OBCs). It also successfully changed the debate from development to Gujarat’s asmita (identity) and patriotism.

Management of GST fallout: With growing signs of restlessness in industrial clusters over the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST), the ruling party went on an overdrive to mollify traders and businessmen by reducing GST rates on certain items and publicising the long-term benefits of the indirect tax regime. These measures did work as was evident from the party’s sweep of the polls in Surat, the epicenter of anti-GST agitations.

Helping hand from the Congress: Just when the opposition seemed to be pushing the ruling party in the corner with its sustained focus on development or the lack of it, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s neech admi jibe at Modi gave a big opportunity to the saffron party to change the narrative. The Prime Minister was quick to link it with Gujarat’s ‘asmita’ (pride) even as the BJP machinery launched a campaign to project it as an insult to backward classes. Just two days before the first phase of polling on December 9, the debate over ‘neech admi’ overshadowed that on development.

Organisational strength: With a well-oiled machinery in place down to the grassroots level, the BJP, unlike the Congress, was able to transmit its messages to party cadres and people in real time. This organizational strength also helped the party galvanize its supporters as also fence-sitters to polling booths on the days of elections.

First Published: Dec 18, 2017 17:28 IST