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Hardik Patel to play spoilsport in Gujarat elections?

Narendra Modi’s seventy rallies across Gujarat, and the hype that would be created is huge for voters to get mesmerised towards BJP. On the other hand Congress is relying on Hardik Patel who has lost his credibility in the community; RaGa should learn to fight on his own and not on so called community leaders. While it may benefit Congress to garner some votes, this is exactly kind of opportunism that will hurt Congress in days to come. Hardik Patel is going to be a trouble maker for sure; such creatures can never be at peace. Moreover, Congress and BJP both should take a stand that reservation to Patidars is not possible and fight the elections on other issues. The reality is that they are the wealthiest group in Gujarat and trying to placate them on reservation is setting a very dangerous standard.

Gujarat has become a battle ground for 2017 elections; BJP is trying its best to retain power in the state and Congress with its alliance is making every effort to bounce back. Modi’s Gujarat has seen lots of shift since he left the state for capital. Retaining power is now the biggest ego issue than anything else. Many political pundits have predicted that the mandate for Gujarat can change the vision for 2019 elections in India. If you recollect the strategy that Modi spent three days in Varanasi before the final phase of the Uttar Pradesh election earlier this year, many saw it as a sign of anxiety. He, however, told a party leader, “Election is a battle, and I am the commander”. He always remained BJP worker than the PM of this country. His priority is BJP first and then the nation. He is one person or campaigner in BJP who can fetch the votes for party and minus him the party has nothing to flaunt. Including his election promises, everything is fake and false. Still the party is surviving with majority because of poor leadership in opposition, weak opponents and the anger that is been created against Congress all these while.

In recent rallies of Rahul Gandhi, we have seen large crowd, however how many of them will translate into votes is a question; perhaps if you look at UP and other state elections they could hardly manage to save their face and existence. People may be irritated but are still expected to vote for the BJP. Congress never succeeded in ensuring that anger translates into votes for them. Also it is said that the party loses half of battle when tickets distribution happens due to infighting. There are group of leaders in Congress in race for CM’s post. Rahul Gandhi and Ashok Gehlot may have to do this with extreme care if Congress wants to have a shot at winning.

This time the addition to BJP in Gujarat is Hardik Patel, his state-wide forum driving the movement to demand Other Backward Classes status for the land-holding Patidar or Patel caste. He is leading a campaign against the ruling BJP but also blackmailing Congress to fulfil his demands. Patel makes strong statement that he will not let BJP come to power in the state. But told the Congress to lay out how it plans to include his community — the powerful Patels or Patidars of Gujarat — among castes that are entitled to affirmative action policies. He backed his deadline with a warning that he would disrupt rallies led by Rahul Gandhi as he campaigns across Gujarat if the Congress did not expressly support his demand for reservation for Patels. However, after some back and forth with the Congress, he said his threat stood cancelled for some time. This opportunist is playing spoil sport for all the parties.

Let’s see how this guy succeeds in blackmailing Congress and combats BJP’s big shark Amit Shah’s strategies.

This time Congress appears to be ahead in social media campaigning with ‘Vikas gando thayo che’ being a popular paraphrase in social media. However BJP has also countered them well after some delay and this time social media may not have much effect. BJP’s old guys, who campaigned for Modi in 2013 and 2014, have joined Congress social media and they are using the same strategy against BJP, what they used against Congress those days. If you are on social media network you will find many morphed videos of Modi and his leaders getting circulated. Congress has gone very aggressive and strong on this platform, many equations are really changing. Ahmed Patel’s regain has also boosted the moral of Congress. On the other hand, BJP’s CM Vijay Rupani is failing to create expected impact in last year this election again would be fought in name of Namo. Gujarati people still loves him. It being the home state of Namo and Amit Shah, they are leaving no stone unturned in winning this. Both of them know Gujarat politics inside out and also has a great network. The years of development by Modi especially in urban places will have a huge impact. People are still wary of Congress and their Muslim-appeasement and frequent riots in Congress rule. Congress even tried to shed this image with Rahul Gandhi visiting various temples in Gujarat, but it may fail to have much impact.

Still it will not be very difficult for BJP to win but they will make it with thin margin, though opinion polls are giving them easy majority. 40 per cent of OBC population can create a huge difference in this election with their newly emerged leader Alpesh Thakor joining Congress. He has a large influence on the OBC voters. Whether they will continue voting for Namo or heed Thakor, this could change the narrative of this election. Patidars are one of the most influential castes in Gujarat politics. Hardik Patel has made his anti-BJP stance clear and may urge Patidars to vote for Congress if he settles on offer given by them. Recent incidents of thrashing Dalits have not gone down well with the community. They had also started an agitation against BJP with Jignesh Mevani emerging as their leader, who also has made his anti-BJP stance clear. However, with only 7 per cent population and they being majorly Congress vote-bank, they may not affect much. The core vote-bank of BJP is unhappy with BJP due to demonetisation and GST. Especially textile industry is agitating against central government from long time. So there will definitely be a vote swing, but I doubt it would be a larger swing because traders know that BJP would be more business friendly than Congress. The BJP, under Modi and Shah, has consistently used power to expand power. It controls dairy cooperatives, self-help groups and rural banks. The party structure is both wide and deep; Shah has focused on ensuring booth committees are operational and active. Modi is known for his pragmatic leadership and didn’t allow any opponent to rise. His tenure was known for good governance and development and other investment submits like Vibrant Gujarat and Plastic India. But lot has changed after he left Gandhinagar. Even BJP is facing the paucity of leadership. Anandiben was not as pragmatic as Modi. But she is known for her social sector reforms. Legacy of Modi is a blessing and boon for BJP in Gujarat. Vijay Rupani, new Chief Minister of Gujarat is called the puppet of Modi.

Let’s see what is written in the fate of Gujarat in coming time…

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Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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