Friday, 1 December 2017
Gujarat Elections 2017 – Who will Win?
The Gujarat elections for 2017 are round the corner. Less than 8 days are left for the first round of polling and less than a week for campaigning to stop.
In 2012, the BJP won 116 seats out of 182 while the Congress won 60 seats. The state had a record voter turnout of 71.32%. BJP’s vote share was 47.9% while the Congress had a vote share of 38.9%. The gap between the BJP and the Congress vote share narrowed from 9.49% in 2007 to 9% in 2012 primarily because of Keshubhai Patel, an old Congress Stalwart setting up a new party and taking away 3.6% of the vote share.
Gujarat has consistently out-performed most states in terms of GDP growth. Infrastructure in the state is amongst the best in the country. Out of 18,066 villages, 17,856 villages, account for 98.84% of the population have paved roads. Based on some statistics, law and order in Gujarat would place it among the better states of our country. More investments are possibly needed in education and healthcare but once again, the state would be one of the better ones in India. Where else in India would one see well-paved and beautifully lit riverbanks like Ahmedabad and Surat?
Both the major parties, BJP and Congress, are sparing no efforts in getting their viewpoint across to the voters who are enjoying their “5-yearly” attention from the political workers and the press. The Prime Minister is leading the charge on behalf of the BJP. Understandably, he wants to win big from his home state.
Rahul Gandhi is putting in every effort to throw all kinds of allegations, more often than not asking completely illogical questions, thus questioning the basic intelligence of the Gujarati voter. He has promised to waive all loans within 10 days of coming to power (I wonder why this is not treated as a financial incentive to voters by the Election Commission).
The Congress vice president is leaving no “holy stone” unturned and is seeking the blessings of every Hindu God. He has probably visited more temples in Gujarat the last few months than he must have over the past few years or before any other state election! After all, he is expected to be crowned President of the Congress party the day after the Gujarat elections are announced.
While BJP is questioning why Rahul Gandhi’s staff signed his name in the register for non-Hindus at Somnath Temple, Kapil Sibal has taken the term “ridiculous” to a new level where Shri Sibal has classified the prime minister as a person who is not a Hindu!! On the other hand, Congress spokespersons are scrambling to show old photographs and out shouting one another to prove their leader is a Brahmin and a Shaivite!
Then there is Hardik Patel who has brought the patidar reservation (whether or not this is permissible) to the forefront knowing that they have a small selfish voter base, looking for reservations, but a loud share of noise through some friendly media persons. Finally, AAP is sitting on the side-lines, hoping to be a spoiler in the elections since they know they have no hope of winning a single seat.
Like every election, the television debates sound the death knell for the loser only to forget what they have said once the results are out.
Then, of course, there is the voter who knows the power he / she can exercise through their ballot. Yes, the voters have been hurt by the demonetisation but they recognise the need for this significant step taken by the Prime Minister and support him. Yes, they have seen pain from the implementation of the GST but they can also see the long term benefits of this single tax in the country. And yes, there is the anti-incumbency factor in the state.
So how would a voter from Gujarat react?
Would they vote for BJP as they have done for so many years and continue to repose their trust in Prime Minister Modi? Or would they vote for the Congress and hope that the completely untested Rahul Gandhi may use a magic wand and deliver in the State of Gujarat something that he has failed to do in his Amethi constituency? Or would they exercise their right and vote for NOTA “None of the above”? There will also be a small impact of Hardik Patel, Aam Aadmi Party and the other parties but none of these will have a significant impact on the BJP.
I believe that, supportive as he may be, the voter in Gujarat is upset about demonetization and GST and wants to show his dissent without hurting the BJP. He may not have liked the idea of all his business coming out into the open and in public domain through GST filings. Yet he recognises that the only sustainable hope for India and Gujarat is the BJP and Modi. Definitely not the Congress and Rahul Gandhi.
The voter, upset with the BJP, will lodge his protest by not going to vote. This will be the voter’s way of punishing the BJP and expressing his anger. So, we will see a drop in the voter turnout in these elections. The vote share difference between the BJP and the Congress may narrow further by a couple of points, which will become the subject of many debates and articles, albeit for 2022.
Though the BJP vote share may drop, we will see an increase in the number of seats that the BJP will win. The system of our democracy is the “first one past the post wins the election” and there can be no doubt that this will be the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies and the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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