'Brand Modi' stamps its authority once again, puts BJP on course to record tally in Gujarat
The enduring sway Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on the Gujarati consciousness has put the BJP on the path to possibly achieving the best-ever tally for any party in the state assembly polls.
The BJP is on track to possibly achieve the best-ever tally for any party in the Gujarat assembly elections thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's enduring influence over Gujarati consciousness, which has diminished the significance of people's perceived discontent with issues like inflation and local leadership.
In his barnstorming campaign across the state, during which he spoke at 31 rallies and organised three road shows, Modi travelled through different parts of his home state, pleading with voters to help Bhupendra Patel's government surpass his record-breaking performance while running the state for nearly 13 years. And it is clear that the electorate paid attention to him. The BJP may outperform its previous record-breaking performance of 127 seats from 2002 when Modi was the chief minister.
The Election Commission's data has put the BJP's vote share well over 50 per cent in the first half of the counting itself, a historic first for the party, and a split helped this in the opposition's votes due to the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party indicates that the party may break the record of 149 seats won by the Congress under Madhavsinh Solanki in 1985.
For those passing through the western state, it was evident that voters may have some issues with the BJP, which has been in power in the state since 1998, regarding its local leadership and some aspects of its administration. However, for most voters, these issues were unimportant compared to the party's larger governance architecture, ideological thrust, and, above all, their faith in Modi.
"PM Modi has emerged as a rare leader whose popularity is unaffected by factors like anti-incumbency or the long duration of stay in power. In fact, his popularity has risen with time. He was a 'jan-jan ke neta' (a leader of masses) and is now 'jan-man ke neta' (a leader of masses and their hearts)," Shiwanand Dwivedi, who has written and edited four books on the BJP and its leaders, said.
People may disagree with the BJP, its legislators, and its administrations. Still, they support Modi above everything else, said Dwivedi, a member of the BJP-affiliated think tank Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.
Although Modi's campaign extensively covered all four regions of the state, a focus was placed on tribal areas and areas of Saurashtra where the BJP had seen its support fall in 2017 due to several factors, including the Patidar movement.
Most of the constituencies in places like Surat, Ahmedabad, and Gandhinagar were traversed by his road shows. The closest opposition party, the Congress, was poised to suffer its worst-ever performance as the trends indicate that the BJP's victory appears complete. The Congress had leads in less than 20 seats.
The BJP will become the only party, aside from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), to have won seven successive Assembly elections if they prevail in Gujarat. Seven consecutive elections had also been won by the CPI(M), which ruled West Bengal for 34 years, from 1977 to 2011.
(With inputs from PTI)