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Despite loss, Gujarat results infuse new vigour into Cong

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Despite loss, Gujarat results infuse new vigour into Cong

Rahul Gandhi is expected to keep up the enthusiasm and vigour with which he fought the Gujarat elections. He would not go into hiding after the results like earlier. The Congress has lost in Gujarat, but Rahul’s hard work is being appreciated by some. If we see the vote share, he has brought the Congress very close to the BJP. And if we analyse the vote patterns, we will find that Rahul has turned around the old equations in the State. He saved his core vote bank and at the same time cut into some of the BJP’s votes. On this basis, the Congress feels that now the Opposition will certainly accept Rahul as their leader and gear up to fight the next Lok Sabha Elections under him.

Some believe Rahul has proved that challenges can be posed before Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Rahul played well in their home turf and this has boosted the morale of the Congress workers and leaders. Before this, Rahul had worked hard in many States; in 2012 and 2017, he campaigned rigorously in Uttar Pradesh. But then he disappeared when the party was defeated. Now this has changed. 

Sources close to him say Rahul is not going abroad for holidays this year. One of the reasons might be that the Parliament Session is on. The other reason could be that he wants to send a message that now that he is the party president, his responsibilities have increased. There can be a third reason also — he has taken the onus for Gujarat results and promised big correction in this. He has to keep his enthusiasm intact and give a message to the Congress voters and workers that he would fight all future elections in the same manner.

Now all eyes are on the upcoming elections in three States of the North-East and Karnataka. The Congress sources say that the Gujarat results have infused new vigour into Rahul and he has decided to fight the Karnataka elections using the same strategy. He will campaign extensively for the next six months and also form a new team.

A leader close to him says that the Congress is analysing the results of Gujarat elections along with the results of the Lok Sabha polls. At that time, the BJP had got more than 160 seats and that was the reason why Amit Shah had said that the party would get 150 seats in the Assembly Elections. But the Congress has stopped the BJP below the 2012 level and has increased its own vote share.

BOTH PARTIES ARE HAPPY

Normally, election results are a reason for celebration for one party and a cause of disappointment for another. However, in a curious case, the Gujarat results have made both the BJP and Congress happy. The BJP is elated as it has won the election six times in a row. Gujarat was a prestige issue for PM Modi and Amit Shah, and the BJP succeeded in saving that prestige. On the other hand, the Congress is happy that it gave a good fight to the BJP. 

The BJP’s National President Amit Shah had said that he would not rejoice his win if he would get less than 150 seats. But the party is celebrating even after getting much less seats in comparison to what it had got in the last elections. This is because Rahul and his three partners — Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani, and Alpesh Thakor — got a good response during the campaign. That was perhaps why Modi and Shah worked extra hard. Nevertheless, after the victory, the BJP is on cloud nine.

The Congress is rejoicing as its vote share has gone up and seats have also increased. The Gujarat results are positive for the BJP as it managed to ride over the anti-incumbency factor of 22 years. In a business-dominated State like Gujarat, the GST and demonetisation have not been able to dent the BJP’s strong position.

 

COMPARISON WITH LS POLLS

In Gujarat, the data of Assembly Elections can be analysed on two basis: With the 2012 Assembly polls and the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The BJP is quoting the last Assembly Elections and the Congress is attacking the BJP by bringing up the data of the Lok Sabha Elections. In the last Assembly Elections, the BJP got around 47 per cent votes, while the Congress secured 40 per cent. This time around, the BJP is near its old vote share, but the Congress has got more. So, the BJP is saying that the vote share of other parties and Independent candidates has gone to the Congress, and hence there is no loss for the BJP.

The Congress is, on the other hand, assessing itself on the basis of the 2014 Lok Sabha results. At that time, there was a tsunami in the name of Modi. The BJP had got around 60 per cent votes and had won all 26 seats. On that basis, the BJP had an edge in more than 160 seats. That is why Amit Shah had claimed to win around 150 seats. But that didn’t happen.

So, on the basis of the Lok Sabha data, the BJP has faced a loss of more than 50 seats. The Congress is considering this as its victory. Similar analysis is being done for the Himachal election results. In the State, the BJP has won 45 seats and has got a full majority, but considering the performance in the Lok Sabha Elections, it has suffered a loss of more than a dozen seats. So, in this State, the Congress is seeing victory even in defeat.

CONTROVERSY OVER EVMs

What will happen to the controversy that has erupted over the EVMs? Will the parties accept the results of the Gujarat and Himachal elections or will they continue with their demand to stop the use of EVMs in elections? Use of EVMs was vehemently opposed in the Gujarat elections and the greatest opponent was Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader. His protest against EVMs still continues. What is interesting is that all the Congress candidates who were, in fact, Hardik’s close associates, have won. Though this is also true that in Hardik’s stronghold, results are not as per his expectations and claims. He was not able to defeat the BJP. Despite that, it is believed that his protest against the EVMs will not have much impact, and that is primarily because the Congress is not interested in the issue. The vote share of the party has gone up, so the basis of the protest doesn’t seem valid at all.

In fact, the issue of EVMs has persisted since 2004. When the BJP lost the elections in 2004, it went to the Supreme Court, opposing the use of EVMs, and after that, the Congress has been raising the issue in light of the BJP’s winning spree. So, there is a possibility that the Congress might bring this up before the Karnataka elections as well. Karnataka CM Siddharamaiah has demanded the use of ballot papers in the elections.

 
 
 
 
 

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