Gujarat election results hold key to future poll alliances
On a cold December morning the people of Gujarat have delivered an equally chilling message to the principal opposition party, the Congress. The electorate, which had unwaveringly voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the past 22 years, has continued to be loyal to its favourite son, Narendra Modi.
Himachal Pradesh has continued its track record of voting out the incumbent government from office. BJP win has again widened the party’s footprint and put pressure on the Congress to defend its stronghold in regional elections due next year.
The grand alliance formed by the grand old party, the Congress, had reached with the young troika of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani did not give enough momentum to the opposition to sweep the BJP out of office. The adverse impact of demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and lack of jobs for the youth failed to click with the voters. BJP’s win ensures that Modi remains in the pole position in the race for the next general elections. It signals the Congress a need to redraw its strategy. The newly elected Congress president Rahul Gandhi has to put in an extra effort with shrewder alliance to outwit the BJP.
Apart from the next general elections, the Congress has to prepare itself for a stiff competition it would face in eight Assembly elections due in 2018. Karnataka, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan election results will set the mood for the next general elections. There will be no time for recovery if reverses are faced in 2018.
In the win, there are significant warning signals to the BJP. The party’s core voter, the trading community, is up in arms at the shoddy implementation of the GST. Though the government took several steps to redress the complaints, there is going to be a greater pressure on fiscal deficit and other macro-economic indicators in view of rising global crude oil prices and revenue foregone due to reduction in rates and slabs of GST. Inflation has already begun to edge though industrial recovery appears bleak.
The Congress has enough to score debating points in Gujarat results. A formidable anti-BJP alliance built in Gujarat can be replicated in other States as well as nationally. A significant Congress gain will make other parties agreeable to leadership of Rahul Gandhi.
Most of the regional parties have for decades nurtured on anti-Congressism in the days when the grand old party dominated the political landscape. However, these parties currently chafe under fears of BJP marginalising them politically. In such a scenario, many opposition and regional parties would be willing to joining hands with the Congress to protect their turf from BJP.
The New Year offers prospects of interesting political alignments.