All poll predictions and exit poll predictions have failed; BJP could not achieve projected results but saved its face by retaining power in Gujarat. After a marathon canvassing by two opponent parties, it is a big face saver for BJP, where the party could not achieve even the three digit victory figure in terms of seats.
The results have also brought life into the Congress and a rejuvenated Congress with 80 seats under its belt can pose a big threat to the ruling party in the ensuing elections of 2018. In the Hindi belt the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh have elections in 2018 besides Karnataka and certain North East states. In all 8 states will go for the ballot in 2018 and thus it would be a mini general election and results thereof would have greater impact on the general elections of 2019.
As far as Rajasthan is concerned, Ashok Gehlot has been sheet anchor in the recently concluded Gujarat election. He has proved his ability as an organizer and results have been satisfactory in spite of Congress not being voting to power. Thus, the veteran Gehlot would be a potential threat to other prospective skippers like Sachin Pilot and C P Joshi. The Rajasthan polls have been voting for alternative Governments turn by turn and if the trend continues the invigorated Congress under its new president Rahul Gandhi would put in all efforts to oust Vasundhara Raje, who has to face anti-incumbency factor too.
Ever since implementation of GST, some of the provisions were not welcomed that included the provisions of reverse charge mechanism, difficult system of e filing of returns, reporting of non-taxable transactions in return, monthly filing of return irrespective of turnover, imposition of fine for delayed filing of returns and inclusion of many goods in the category of 28 % tax slab. In Surat and Ahmedabad agitations were held. The govt had relaxed certain provisions like reverse charge mechanism until March, 2018 and just with onset of election many of the commodities were taken out of 28 % slab and that appears to have been accepted by the trade. The outcome of Surat results indicated the same, where BJP had emerged stronger and had changed the tempo which swung in favour of Congress in Saurashtra.
This election proved a Waterloo for certain politicians. In this election 6 sitting ministers of BJP lost. The agony was also seen in Congress, where three of their stalwarts Arjun Modwadia, Shakti Singh Gohil and Sidharth Patel lost the election.
Saurashtra result has been a set back for BJP. CM Vijay Rupani comes from Saurashtra. Apparently, the vikas model of Gujarat could not bring cheers to the farmer fraternity. Saurashtra is known for cultivation of groundnut and cotton. Over the years no remarkable improvement could be made in the general condition of farmers. The annoyance of Patel community on reservation front had added to the woes of the BJP prospectus.
These factors collectively resulted into a huge success for Congress in Saurashtra. For the first time, some glimpses demonstrated to the effect that Rahul Gandhi can emerge as national leader and can lead Congress.
This is also a lesson for BJP, where the people have voted it to power in Gujarat but there is enough message that everything cannot be taken for granted. A strong opposition is part of a healthy democratic system and Congress has emerged with their greatest tally.
It should be hoped that it would play its role as mandated by the people of Gujarat. These results have also produced some young leaders like Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakore. They have a long way to go and would have to deliver the goods for long political innings.
Contributed by: Mahendra Kothari, Honorary Correspondent, UdaipurTimes