December 18, 2017 5:50:32 pm
The Congress party’s campaign revolved around the real issues of Gujarat whereas the BJP’s political lexicon was dominated with a divisive narrative coupled with playing the sympathy card to influence the voters. Regardless of the final outcome of the election tally, the Congress has won the political narrative. The decisive increase in the Congress’s vote and seat share
reflects the rising disenchantment amongst the voters against the BJP. The Congress has captured the imagination of the youth, business community, farmers and the marginalised sections of society. The Gujarat election campaign reaffirms a clear alternative to the “suit-boot” model of the BJP.
The Congress party entered the political battleground in Gujarat on a positive narrative. The manifesto focused on creating employment, farm waiver, strengthening the educational and health infrastructure with special emphasis on affordability, equitable growth and development for all. The lack of jobs, injustice against the Patidar community, rising atrocities against the Dalits, agrarian distress, dismal record on the literacy and malnutrition parameters, rampant commercialisation of education and health care were the central themes on which the Congress-led its campaign. The response on the ground was unprecedented with well-attended rallies, public meetings and a palpable sense amongst the voters yearning for a change after 22 years of ill-governance.
In the 22 years of BJP reign, a handful of corporates have thrived at the expense of the populace. A striking case in point is the electricity sector wherein state electricity generation has been deliberately kept low enabling the government to continue purchasing electricity from corporate companies at exorbitant rates. In every sense of the term, the BJP’s ‘Gujarat model’ was a perfect exemplar of crony capitalism. Adding to this, the double whammy of
Demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) compounded the woes of the rest of the business community struggling with a sluggish domestic economy.
The youth suffered on account of the failure of the BJP to deliver on job creation, resulting in massive mobilisations for reservation in jobs and better economic opportunities. The BJP, instead of addressing their concerns and
delivering on their promises, responded with violence and sedition cases on young Patidar boys seeking economic justice. The BJP rule witnessed unparalleled Dalit marginalisation – the gruesome flogging at Una remains etched on the nation’s conscience. The divisive agenda of the BJP has created faultiness in society causing irreparable damage.
The BJP attempted to polarise the electorate with orchestrated machinations ranging from forged entries in a register to highly condemnable comments against former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh; former Chief of Army Staff Deepak Kapoor as well as other well -espected dignitaries. Questioning the commitment and loyalty of statesmen like Dr Singh and former Vice-
President Hamid Ansari reflected a sense of desperation by the BJP. The BJP campaign rhetoric was centered on issues having no connection to Gujarat and its challenges, which was a deliberate ploy to sidestep any accountability from their misgovernance. The belated release of their manifesto demonstrates a lack of vision and a sense of arrogance that has begun to riddle their functioning.
Political parties in a democracy are a medium to fulfill the aspirations of the electorate. Civility in the political discourse and issue-based campaigns are the hallmarks of a healthy democracy. At the end of the day, politics is an instrument to improve the quality of life of the citizenry. The Congress will continue with its unflinching resolve to fight for the rights of the masses and to propagate the true ideals of the father of our nation.
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