The Gujarat assembly poll verdict is seen as an acid test for BJP after the party came to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. BJP, which had emerged victorious in 2007 and 2012 Gujarat assembly by a comfortable margin, is finding it difficult to win power struggle in the state after facing stiff competition from a resurgent Congress. Thus, the road ahead looks tough for BJP which is facing anti-incumbency after ruling the state for 22 years. Already voters are unhappy with the party for hastily implementing Goods and Services Tax (GST), demonetisation and Patidar reservation issue.
Many business establishments have shut down in the state after the implementation of GST and youth have been rendered jobless due to demonetisation. Gujarat has been witnessing a jobless growth due to dearth of opportunities in the private sector. The state government has failed to address the grievances of farmers who have received less remuneration for agricultural produce. Dalits too are unhappy with the BJP on account of rising atrocities committed against them. Ever since Modi quit the Gujarat Chief Minister’s post to become Prime Minister of India, the BJP has failed to find an amicable local leader to take over the reins of the state. The situation looked so grim that Modi himself had to take charge of the campaigning activities in the state to attract voters. The PM along with other BJP ministers was camping in the state ahead of the assembly polls.
Mohansinh Rathwa, Opposition leader of Gujarat Congress said, “Gujarat residents are unhappy with BJP’s functioning in the state. Youth and labour classes are keen to oust the party out of power. BJP is indulging in corruption activities and one has to grease the palm of officials to procure caste certificate and other documents. People are impressed with the campaigning activities undertaken by Rahul Gandhi.”
Pratik Rupala, co-convenor Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch said, “The contest is held between 6 crore Gujaratis and BJP. People are fed up with BJP due to poor governance and Congress will derive benefit out of it. Rahul Gandhi was able connect with voters. This time people have voted for change and caste based politics has taken a backseat.”
Jayesh Patel, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) Ahmedabad convenor said, “Congress will emerge victorious in Gujarat due to the anti-incumbency factor prevailing against BJP. Patidars had voted for BJP in the 2012 Gujarat assembly polls. Why was Hardik Patel’s CD released ahead of election? This issue has not affected his image among Patidars.”
Deepak Salve, activist said, “Patidar community has distanced themselves from BJP due to demonetisation and GST. They are also miffed with the party for its failure to grant reservation to them. People want change in governance.”
Gopal Shetty, BJP MP said, “People have realised that BJP has emerged as a strong party to contest the Gujarat assembly polls. Since we have worked for the welfare of people, hence, our party will win. BJP has taken some tough decisions in the interest of the nation.”