Friday, December 8, 2023

Countdown for results


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Assembly elections in two states – Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh – have raised the curiosity levels to a high across the nation; and understandably so. Ten days hence, the results will be declared together on December 8. The two-phase polling in Gujarat would be held on December 1 and 5 while Himachal’s one-day polling was over on November 12. A general understanding is that the BJP will sweep the elections in Gujarat but the scenario remains unpredictable in Himachal Pradesh where the Congress party has put up a good fight. Himachal has a tendency to vote out the party in power. This and the likely play of anti-incumbency sentiments against the five-year-rule of the BJP as was reflected in the large public presence at some of Priyanka Gandhi’s rallies give the Congress some amount of confidence this time to upstage its political adversary.
The presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi—BJP’s main vote-fetcher across states – in both the states during the campaign-run gave the BJP considerable morale-boost. The deft handling of communal equations among the Hindus in Gujarat with the upper hand accorded to the numerically strong and financially powerful Patel community had boosted the BJP’s chances. This apart, the massive industrial progress for Gujarat apparently at the behest of the Prime Minister in the past eight years is well-appreciated. The status of Mumbai as the nation’s principal financial centre, for instance, is systematically being robbed by Gujarat through resolute steps as in the setting up of the GIFT City linking the principal urban sprawls of Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad. It is not just that the GIFT City was launched by Modi while as CM, but the central government under Modi midwifed the process of Gujarat’s economic progress. The rich and the middle class there are enthused no end by the “Modi magic” while the large army of the poor has less reasons to feel comfortable under the BJP rule there. Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP are seeking to win the backing of this segment.
In this polarization, palpably, the Congress that did somewhat well in the last assembly polls in Gujarat took a hard beating. Opinion polls project a scenario of the Congress doing a bit better than the AAP. Whether Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra through Gujarat added to the strengths of the Congress in any manner is worth a watch. Kejriwal’s claim that the AAP would wrest power in Gujarat is taken by many observers with a pinch of salt. As of now, a repeat of the Punjab victory for this party in Gujarat is seen as wishful thinking.

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