The incumbent politicians of India are one of the most vulnerable countries around the globe.
“Two from three governments are dismissed in India. In America it’s exactly the opposite: two out of three get elected.” Ruchir Sharma, a prominent analyst, once said.
Narendra Modi is one of the few exceptions. Narendra Modi is a standout. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader was elected to three assemblies repeatedly and then ruled Gujarat the state he grew up in for more than 12 years prior to shifting to Delhi in 2014. He’s been able to lead the party in two major victories to lead India.
However, this hasn’t prevented Prime Minister Modi from running the campaign for the Gujarat State Assembly. The record-breaking victory on Thursday – where the BJP won more than 156 seats out of 182 plus more than half the popular vote – has paved an opening for the possibility of a seventh term within the state. It also showed that Mr. Modi has become “synonymous with Gujarat” according to many commentators claim.
Mr. Modi typically declared the Gujarat election a referendum on himself. He addressed more than 30 meetings during the campaign and staged long road shows to attract voters and get a swell of coverage on the news channels. On the campaign trail, he invoked Gujarati Asmita, or pride, and urged the electorate to “trust” him as well as his BJP government. “You do not think that the prime minister will invest the energy and time during a state election.” declares Amit Dholakia, who is a teacher of political science in Ahmedabad’s Maharaja Sayajirao University.
Mr. Modi could have been pressured to do more than normal. His fervor for strident Hindu nationalists, paired with his promises of economic growth is a major appeal to the electorate. In the aftermath of religious riots, violence erupted across Gujarat within a short time after he became president in 2002, however, that was not enough to stifle his popularity. It is true that Gujarat is ahead of the rest of India in terms of investment and per capita income, and is the fourth-largest economy in the world.
But, like elsewhere in India there is a shortage of jobs up and prices are increasing in Gujarat. Gujarat is lagging behind prosperous states in terms of health indicators, such as the rates of maternal and infant mortality. Modi’s successors in local government have not had the same popularity as the voters. In the state elections of 2017 the party, battling the resurgent opposition of Congress as well as a revolt by its supporters, who were part of an influential landowners’ community, managed to secure only a small victory.
“But once Mr. Modi is in the picture The script is changed,” says Shekhar Gupta ThePrint’s editor-in-chief, Shekhar Gupta. ThePrint A News and Current Affairs portal.
Mr. Modi says that commentators realize that a defeat to his BJP in Gujarat could be detrimental to not just his party, but also his image as well. One reason why he spent the time and energy to campaign in Gujarat this time may be the rise of the rival Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that is headed by Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP is ruling Delhi’s city-state of Delhi since 2015. In 2015, it was elected to the state of Punjab. On Wednesday, the party seized control of the cash-rich municipal of the capital city, Delhi which was ruled by the BJP and had been in charge for fifteen years.
The late Mr. Kejriwal is a fierce leader who loves to throw down the challenge to Mr. Modi The reason he retreated to Varanasi to challenge Modi, the BJP leader during the 2014 general elections. (He lost.) In Gujarat, the party was introduced with just five seats, but it won around 13 percent of the votes, largely in opposition to the primary opposing Congress party. “It has created an opposition space. It is required to create an effective grassroots network as well as competent leadership,” says Prof Dholakia.
A survey conducted by YouGov, a world-renowned market research company, as well as the Delhi-based, think institute Centre for Policy Research (CPR) with more than 200 towns and cities earlier this year revealed that the AAP is gaining a position as a viable opposition to BJP and in the space of opposition that Congress was enjoying. “They’ve gained a foothold into the political arena. That doesn’t mean they’ll be able to win next time around however, they are now political candidates in the state,” says Rahul Verma who is a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research.
However, Modi’s BJP is tough to defeat. His unquestionable popularity as a voter is enhanced by the party’s Hindutva philosophy, a strong structure with a wealth of resources, an impeccable record of government and a solid social coalition, and a broad-based media.
Mr. Modi is additionally assisted to no small degree by a weak opposition that is the Congress party’s poor performance in Gujarat has shown that the public does not like it anymore according to commentators. Modi’s win was a narrow one in the battle against BJP in the tiny mountain state Himachal Pradesh – where voters are notoriously known for throwing out incumbents – is the chance of a glimmer of hope for an exhausted party. However, the result that took place in Himachal Pradesh “exemplified the limitations of Modi’s capability to lead BJP through the state election” According to Asim Ali who is a political scientist.
The sweeping victory of the BJP in Gujarat indicates that the rainbow alliance of middle, upper, and lower-ranking castes, also referred to as”the Other Backward Class (OBCs) that the party has put together is continuing to reap dividends. OBCs make up around 50% of Gujarat’s 60 million citizens and make up a large portion of the party’s voter base.
Mr. Modi’s charisma and ability to connect with voters remain the party’s most powerful asset. “But the party’s strongest strength is also its biggest weakness. Remove Mr. Modi off the table and the BJP is fragile,” says Prof Dholakia. “The dependence on Modi can also be an acknowledgment of the weaknesses of the local leaders. Other state leaders are not well-liked.”
The BJP is set to govern Gujarat without interruption for 29 years. This is the first time that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was in power in the district (West Bengal) for longer at a record 34 years. And Mr. Modi is 72 and continues to be a political outlier challenging anti-incumbency in his state as well as outside.