In Gujarat too like UP number crunching at the level of local body polls is the key — suddenly, you will start witnessing the rural-urban divide, churning within castes and the class struggle underway in Gujarat.
YOU were told that the BJP has ‘swept’ UP civic body polls. It turned out that the saffron party had only skimmed the surface. Avoiding the necessary number crunching, mainstream media sold BJP’s victory in 14 out of 652 seats at stake as a ‘sweep’! Besides seats, the fact that BJP had lost 12% of the vote share since scoring an all time high of 42% just a couple of months back in UP assembly elections, was not even mentioned.
BJP apologists began saying that the BJP had done better this time than 2012 civic polls! What chicanery! What stupid audacity! In 2012 assembly polls, BJP had won 12% of seats; in 2012 UP civic body polls, BJP got 14% seats. In 2017 assembly elections, BJP won 80% seats. In 2017 UP civic body polls, BJP won just 28% seats!
Now, please tell me, compared to 2012, how on earth did BJP perform better in 2017 UP civic polls?
The Gujarat scenario
A similar fraud is on display in Gujarat. BJP is being washed out. Mainstream media is in denial mode. A lot of liberals too are in denial — they just cannot accept that BJP is losing Gujarat…and worse, the fact that THEY couldn’t fathom it! In Gujarat too, number crunching AT THE LEVEL OF LOCAL BODY POLLS is the key — suddenly, you will start witnessing the rural-urban divide, churning within castes and the class struggle underway in Gujarat.
Gujarat in 2000
In fact, Modi’s elevation as CM in 2002 came after major BJP losses in Gujarat local body polls. Since 1995, BJP was in power in Gujarat. It suffered its first reverses in September 2000, when results of Gujarat local body polls came in; out of 23 district panchayats, Congress won 21. It was a complete reversal of the pre-1995 status.
In 210 talukas of 24 districts, Congress won 2,298 taluka panchayat seats against the BJP’s 1,276. Even in the BJP’s traditional urban fiefdom, the party did not perform as per expectations. In six municipal corporations, BJP won 227, and Congress 193 seats. But, BJP lost the prestigious municipal corporations of Ahmedabad and Rajkot after ruling respectively, for 13 and 24 years. Earlier, in Surat, BJP had won 98 out of 99 seats. In September 2000, the party was reduced to 54 seats in the same district.
Why Modi had to invent the communal line
Modi’s communal line, backed fully by RSS, included massacre of minorities in 2002. The line was a responses to BJP’s impending defeat in Gujarat assembly polls, due then in 2003. Post-massacre, Modi polarised Gujarat and advanced the polls to December, 2002 — rest, of course, is history.
Gujarat in 2015: The vote share story
Fifteen years down the line since 2000, in December 2015, the BJP, under Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, faced a similar situation. After winning 2012 assembly polls, BJP lost most of the district panchayats, a majority of taluka panchayats, and several municipalities in the 2015 local body elections. Here, vote share dimension is critical; from 2010 to 2015, there was a drastic change in the number of taluka and district panchayats controlled by the BJP and the Congress. But what is more, in district panchayats, BJP’s vote share dipped from 50.26 in 2010 to 43.97 in 2015! Congress vote went up from 44% in 2010 to 47.85 in 2015. Between 2010 to 2015, in Taluka panchayats, BJP’s vote share came down from 48.51 to 43.42%. Congress surged ahead from 42.42 to 46%.
In 2015, BJP retained its hold over the semi-urban and urban regions, winning 34 out of 56 municipalities and retaining all the six municipal corporations to which elections were held. But these victories were half truths! Congress put up a tough fight in Rajkot. With a tally of 34, it managed to scare the BJP, which won 38 seats in the 72-member corporation.
In 2010, the BJP had won 49 and the Congress won 10 in a then 59-member corporation. In Ahmedabad, BJP’s tally came down from 154 in 2010 to 142 in 2015. While the BJP retained control over the 56 municipalities and the six municipal corporations, the vote share trend from 2010 to 2015 moved in favor of the Congress. In the 56 municipalities, BJP fell from 47.7 to 44.67%. Congress registered a gain from 29.59 to 39.59%. In the six municipal corporations, BJP came down from 51.68 to 50.32%. Congress gained 8% from 33 to 41.12%.
Urban-rural and class divide
The 2015 local body election results in Gujarat, portrayed an urban–rural divide almost equally between the BJP and the Congress. Plus, it was proved that steadily over the years, Gujarat has moved from a caste riven society to a class driven mode — economic differences between upper, middle and lower classes within castes increased sharply.
The phenomenon is sharper in Patidars than any other caste. Restlessness among Patidar youths, most of them poor and lower middle class, reflects this new reality. Modi and other BJP CMs have failed on the economic front. Between 2002 and 2017, differences between the Patidar mass (which is with Hardik and Congress) and Patidar elite (which are still with Modi) registered a dramatic increase. Class factor has triumphed even over the Leuva-Kadva Patel divide.
OBC and others
Within OBCs, the rise of an aspirational, new, ‘budding elite’ upset all calculations. Initially drawn to the BJP, this ‘budding elite’ has switched sides. Similar is the case with Kolis and Adivasis. While class resentment is benefiting Congress among Patidars, class aspirations are helping Congress among other social groups.
Apart from troubles over demonetisation and GST, these changing patterns have ripped BJP’s Hindutva agenda apart! Seven per cent Dalits and eight per cent Muslims were always with Congress. With varying, almost 50:50 divisions in Patidar (15%), Kolis (15%) OBCs (40%), and upper castes (15%), the Gujarat story is complete.
BJP is losing, EVMs can do nothing
Efforts by Sangh Parivar to orchestrate riots on 6th December 2017 to mark the dubious, 25th ‘anniversary’ of Babari Masjid demolition, will yield nothing. Modi is learning a bitter lesson: when people are against you; when people have made up their minds…nothing works! जब जनता खिलाफ हो जाती है, कुछ काम नही आता!
Gujaratis have made up their mind! CONGRESS IS CLOSE TO GETTING 50% OF THE VOTE…AND 120 PLUS SEATS…AND THIS IS A CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE! Yes, I am making a final prediction….
Amaresh Misra is an eminent author, historian and political activist. The views are personal and Caravan does not necessarily share or subscribe to them