Gujarat Election 2022: Will Morbi bridge collapse dent BJP's fortunes?
If you look at Gujarat's social indicators, you will find lacunae in them. However, this does not mean Modi's popularity or the BJP's support base has decreased, say political experts.
Gujarat is yet to recover from the shock of the tragedy that befell Morbi. Over 132 people lost their lives in the suspension bridge collapse. A disaster, the worst since the 2001 earthquake in the Bhuj district. The disaster came even as the state is gearing up for the assembly election, which is expected to be held in December this year.
Incidents like this have taken place in other states as well. It may be noted that just before the assembly elections in West Bengal in 2018, a bridge collapsed, claiming the lives of three persons. On numerous occasions, the ruling parties have had to face the brunt of the people when such a tragedy happens.
Asianet News English reached out to some political analysts to understand if the tragedy would have political implications for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
According to the Asianet News pre-poll survey -- conducted before the Morbi bridge collapse -- the BJP is projected to be retaining power in the state and in the Morbi assembly constituency. The Congress won the Morbi seat in 2017, but the MLA switched sides and won the bypoll in 2020.
Rasheed Kidwai, a political analyst, said: "I do not think there would be any change in the scenario on the ground. In the past, too, tragedies have taken place, and there was hardly any impact on the elections. We have examples like the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and the West Bengal incident, among others. The ruling parties retained power."
"The opposition is not so strong that they can influence the electorate over the issue. Modi has an emotional connect with his state. So I believe the Morbi disaster would not be an election issue," he said.
Gujarat Model dented?
"Gujarat model is an election gimmick. If you look at Gujarat's social indicators, you will find lacunae in them. The tribals and weaker sections are still struggling for their needs," Kidwai added.
Professor and co-director at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Dr Sanjay Kumar, said: "A section of society has started believing that there is a difference between the reality and what has been claimed about the developments in Gujarat."
However, Kumar maintained that this does not mean Modi's popularity has decreased or the BJP's support base has reduced.
With regard to the Morbi tragedy, the political expert said this would not be an issue in the polls. "When people go for the voting, there are a lot of issues on which they cast their votes," he said.
In 2017, Congress won the Morbi seat against the backdrop of the Patidar quota agitation. Morbi was one of the epicentres of the protest because of the massive presence of the Patidar population. Brijesh Merja had won this seat by just 3,419 votes against the BJP's five-time winner Kanti Amrutiya. Later, he crossed over to the BJP.