Politics

Gujarat politics takes a turn – changes game

After bitter fight to the finish, it was Congress leader Ahmed Patel who returned to his post at the Rajya Sabha to carry on his fifth term, as the Gujarat elections drama finally came to an end. Taking the win from right below the noses of BJP chief Amit Shah and union minister Smriti Irani, the Congress leader came out on top in what had quickly become an ugly issue.

In a very embarrassing outcome for the BJP, the election commission of India declared that two votes violated election rules. The ballot papers of two Congress officials were declared invalid by the EC, on the grounds that they showed them to the BJPs election agent. This ensured a win for Ahmet Patel, who needed 44 votes to win, and did in fact receive exactly 44, winning by a hairs width.

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At least six union ministers made repeated visits to the election commission, disputing the decision which prevented BJP from electing in their third candidate – Balwantsinh Rajput. The EC had just passed an order which reduced the strength of the Rajya Sabha to 174, which in turn brought down the target number of votes to 44 from 45.

This caused a delay of more than six hours in the counting process, following a petition by Congress workers who demanded that the votes of the two rebel legislators be nullified. The counting started at around midnight, but was help up as both sides fought for their reputation – several senior BJP union ministers approached the Election Commission multiple times, attempting to counter the Congress claims to disqualify the voters. Both sides sent multiple teams to their Delhi office.

The counting took from midnight to 2 am, after which the results were declared.

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Prior to the election, flames had already been lit as senior Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela turned against the leadership of his party, causing him and five other veteran legislators to resign from their respective posts, citing being sidelined as a cause. This reduced the party strength from 57 to 51. Three out of them later defaulted to the BJP, Balwantsinh Rajput narrowly losing to Ahmed Patel. Shankersinh Vaghela fired even more shots at the Congress, prematurely declaring Patels defeat barely an hour after the voting had begun. He had stipulated that Patel would “not even win 40 votes”, simultaneously remarking that he had already voted against the congressman.

On the bright side for BJP, Amit Shah and Smriti Irani made a sweeping victory in their respective elections.

In India, it is not uncommon for voters to get bored of their chosen political leader, as the end of his/her tenure approaches. Breaking this pattern, Narendra Modi in 2017 is stronger than ever – he’s a brilliant orator, a commendable salesman and India’s mascot to the world. His presence alone is enough to trigger millions of people to chant his name. His charm has managed to smite the entire Indian electorate. The name Modi itself warrants more brand value than any other.

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Today, Modi is evaluated less in terms of promise fulfillment and more on the basis of his ability to sway public opinion and win elections. Even a bold move such as demonetization turned in favor of Modi, as the people were clearly in favor of someone willing to take a risk for the country, even if it would end up not paying off. Brand Modi has been fundamental in BJP’s consistent ability to not just win elections, but also do it in style.  Placed next to Indira Gandhi and Nehru, Modi is the third PM able to command such authority and following – breaking barriers of caste, language and region.

Looking for reasons why, many might argue that in the face of opposition, he is challenged by none. Brand Modi is fierce, bold and courageous as opposed to Manmohan Singh who despite his credentials was branded as a puppet. When BJP speaks, it is Modi’s voice that people hear and resonate with. This is evident in BJP’s landslide victory in UP, eventually dubbed as a victory over politics of nepotism, caste and succession.

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There are multiple factors that have brought about Modi’s transformation from the infamous CM of Gujarat to the most popular political figure of today’s India. A man repeatedly associated with the anti (anti-muslim, anti-congress, anti-secular) has been positively associated with a strong pro-stance (pro-girl child, pro-development, pro-youth, pro-collectivity). This implicit yet effective shift in stance was able to sway the masses towards him. Modi has made the steadfast promise of ‘a better India for every Indian’, conveyed with a heavy measure of nationalism. Even those who criticize him cannot deny the power of his personality and enigma.

The modern Indian voter is willing to bet on someone who can envision the progressive, development oriented Indian dream, however distant that reality might be. Modi rose to power, as he understood the importance of saying what the people want to hear. He used knowledge about the voter’s everyday life to appeal to them on a personal level. He took advantage of his life story – from being an underprivileged tea-maker to the PM of India, all due to his ability and hard-work. India was compelled to think that if he can positively transform his own life, he would also do the same for his motherland. Today, people see Modi as a man on a mission, a vision, a one-man army and that’s why they believe in him.