Gujarat results: Five factors that may influence the outcome on December 18

Both the Congress and the BJP wait with bated breath for December 18, when Gujarat election results will show whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains just as popular with the people of his state.

india Updated: Dec 17, 2017 18:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gujarat results,Gujarat election results,Gujarat elections
Congress party president Rahul Gandhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, among others, at a recent ceremony to pay tributes to security officials who lost their lives in the 2001 Parliament attack. (AP File)

The results of the country’s most eagerly awaited elections in recent times — the Gujarat assembly polls — will be out on Monday.

It is a prestige election for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who led the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign from the front.

PM Modi took on the Congress’s new president Rahul Gandhi, who managed to stitch together a coalition-of-sorts with three young leaders representing communities angry with the BJP, which made the battle that much more interesting.

Whoever wins Gujarat elections, these five factors will have strongly influenced its outcome.

Modi’s mass appeal: Gujarat is the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose popularity remains formidable. His appeal is expected to transcend caste considerations, a factor the opposition Congress is banking on, but BJP strategists believe Gujarati voters will not let him down in an election where his prestige is at stake.

Patidar agitation: Gujarat has witnessed violent agitations by politically and economically dominant Patidars for reservation in government jobs and education over the past two years. They constitute about 12% of the state’s population, and could influence results in about a third of the state’s 182 assembly constituencies. Despite being traditional BJP loyalists, a section of Patidars led by Hardik Patel seem to have shifted its loyalties to the Congress in this election.

Read | Gujarat election result on Monday, counting of votes in 37 centres amid tight security

GST & demonetisation: The Congress sought to politically encash on the perceived resentment among the trading community and small businessmen over the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST) as well as last year’s demonetisation initiative. BJP strategists, however, believe that the party was able to mollify them. They don’t think this resentment will translate into votes for the opposition party.

Anti-incumbency: After 22 years in power, the BJP is facing the problem of anti-incumbency in the state, although the period was marked by high growth. The Congress has sought to puncture the ‘Gujarat model of development’ by citing unemployment, agrarian crisis and the state’s poor performance on human development indicators.

Read | Gujarat elections 2017: A tale of two organisational models in Indian politics

Gujarat’s asmita and Congress’ patriotism: The BJP made the most of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s the prime minister as a “neech aadmi” an as an affront to Gujarat’s asmita or pride. The saffron party also sought to put a question mark on the Congress leaders’ patriotism, alleging that the Gujarat elections were discussed at a meeting between former prime minister Manmohan Singh and the former Pakistani foreign minister and high commissioner at Aiyar’s house. It led to acrimonious exchanges between the two parties in the run-up to the elections.

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 09:34 IST