Gujarat has made electoral history after returning BJP for a seventh consecutive election. It gave the party more than 50% of the popular vote and 156 seats in the House with a thumping majority. This victory was sure about the pride of Gujarati and its heavy leaders leading the country on many fronts along with a scenario of creating room for a new political party to enter the opposition.
The important takeaways from the 2022 election are Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s powerful, undiminished grip over his home state. The outcome of the election also suggests that some voters are willing to accept an “outsider” and are rejecting the tattered Congress. Amit Shah, the union home minister, was one of several BJP leaders who dismissed the Aam Aadmi Party, claiming that Gujarat had never allowed for a third front and that the conflict would only include the BJP and the Congress. The AAP won five seats, two of them taken from the BJP and two from the Congress, all in rural Saurashtra, the peninsular belt that has shaped Gujarat’s political trajectory. On December 5, after the polls closed, state BJP president CR Patil had predicted that the AAP “would not get a single seat.” In central Gujarat, where it ran against the incumbent Bharatiya Tribal Party candidate, it won its fifth seat. However, Prime Minister Modi remained the overarching figure in the 2017 and 2022 campaigns that sway voters to give such a huge mandate to BJP this time. Last time, the Patidar quota agitation and the agrarian community’s discontent had benefited Congress but this time, PM Modi connected the Assembly triumph to his need for a means of returning to power as prime minister in 2024, and it resonated among many people that allow them to vote for BJP. On another side, AAP splits the anti-BJP vote in 2022, which was one of the major causes for Congress’s shrink from 41 per cent to 27.28 per cent with only 17 seats this time.
The election also demonstrates that Gujarati voters, regardless of party affiliation, are open to new, talented, and youthful leaders. Leaders like Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor, and Jignesh Mevani, the three persons who represented the Congress victory in 2017, won this time despite circumstances that were unfavourable to them within their respective parties. Similarly, Anant Patel led the demonstrations against the Par Tapi Narmada Yojana and Dhavalsinh Zala due to which BJP renegades him from the party, and won as an independent candidate while outperforming the AAP contenders. Despite such turmoil in the internal politics of BJP while pouting former ministers who were withdrawn from the race, “Modi’s 30 electoral rallies and Shah’s micromanagement” resolved all of the party’s problems.
Whereas on the other hand, the fig leaf crumbled over Congress, with tribals rejecting it, stalwarts losing, and the party’s vote percentage falling to its lowest level ever. In the most isolated tribal areas of south and northern Gujarat, “Kejriwal” and his promise of “free energy, free healthcare, and free education” was a talking topic, whilst the Congress’ Rs 500-LPG bottle was not.
Amid the grand victory of BJP, it was the AAP that ranked Number two, dislodging the Grand Old Party in not less than 30 seats, giving space to a nascent party in Gujarat for enlisting in the National Party list.
Although its four top leaders, including its state president Gopal Italia and its chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi, lost the election.
In front of BJP’s success in Gujarat with such a large mandate, Congress leader Ashok Gehlot who was in charge of Gujarat could never able to replace leaders who could give a tight fight to BJP. If ever congress thinks of giving any credit to Rahul Gandhi for its 41.4 vote share in the previous election need to pause as the Yatra failed to find any presence in Gujarat this time.