Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Here’s why the results have a significance beyond the state

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New Deli , In the Westminster-style first-past-the-post system, winning matters and this is perhaps what Union Minister Smriti Irani picked on when she said: ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sidkandar’ loosely translated as ‘he who wins rules.’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi flashed a V-sign for victory as he walked into Parliament this morning. His party was set to form the next government in Gujarat and wrest Himachal Pradesh from the Congress. Most would have said 2-0 in favour of the BJP but there was a grey cloud to dampen celebrations.

With the latest leads and wins pointing towards a sub-100 total for the BJP, these results have caused more than a flutter for the saffron brigade. According to leads and wins till at 5 pm, the BJP led in 99 seats and the Congress in 80. Gujarat has 182 assembly seats and 92 seats are required to form a government.

Also Read: Full list of winners in Gujarat

BJP chief Amit Shah congratulated the party workers and pegged wins in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat to PM Modi’s able leadership. Claiming it was a ‘victory for politics of performance’, he said, “Our vote percentage has gone up in Gujarat compared to 2012. In the Gujarat polls, the Congress digressed from issues and took a casteist turn. The people of Gujarat saw through this. Most important leaders of the Congress – whether it be Shaktisinh Gohil or Arjun Modhvadia – lost their seats. The people have defeated the attempt by the Congress to outsource their campaign.”

Shah attributed the fall in BJP’s seats to the ‘low-level’ campaign run by the Congress: ‘When I had said 150, I did not know the levels to which the Congress would stoop to in the campaign, otherwise I would have counted better. We have been at the receiving end. If someone were to smear the PM, would we not respond to it in public life?”

The Prime Minister took to Twitter to thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. “I bow to the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh for their affection and trust in BJP. I assure them that we will leave no stone unturned in furthering the development journey of these states and serve the people tirelessly,” he wrote.

Narendra Modi

@narendramodi
Election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh indicate a strong support for politics of good governance and development. I salute the hardworking BJP Karyakartas in these states for their hardwork which has led to these impressive victories.

3:31 PM – Dec 18, 2017
1,392 1,392 Replies 6,276 6,276 Retweets 22,937 22,937 likes
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Congress President Rahul Gandhi also tweeted: “The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me.” He thanked party workers for their ‘courage and dignity’. “My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage,” he said.

3h

Office of RG

@OfficeOfRG
The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me.

Office of RG

@OfficeOfRG
My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage.

4:29 PM – Dec 18, 2017
1,799 1,799 Replies 5,064 5,064 Retweets 14,770 14,770 likes
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PM Modi Delivers Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh for the BJP

While the map of India depicts that the BJP is closer to achieving PM Modi’s dream of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’, today’s results would have party leaders worried. The Gujarat results may not have resulted in an outright victory but newly-appointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi seems to have tapped into the discontent against PM Modi’s economic policies.

The BJP has held Gujarat for over two decades with PM Modi being at the helm of the state from 2002 to 2014. Last year’s move to demonetise Rs 1000 and 500 currency notes, coupled with the impact on business with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), has hit the traders in Gujarat hard. The Congress picked on the slowdown and attacked the Modi government for favouring a ‘few rich people.’

In a state that has just 10% of Muslims, Rahul Gandhi also sought divine intervention as he hit the campaign trail with vigour and visited over a dozen temples, in addition to holding over 30 election rallies. Political observers say that while the party was unable to win Gujarat, and lost Himachal Pradesh by a huge margin, in Rahul Gandhi it had found a political leader that is capable of taking on the BJP’s election juggernaut.

While the Nehru-Gandhi scion has lived to fight another day, his tenure as the President of the Congress party begins with losing two states. As many as eight states – Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura – go to the hustings in next year. Parliamentary elections are slated to be held in the summer of 2019.

The slender win in Gujarat caps a year where the BJP has won state after state — from Uttar Pradesh to Manipur, from Uttarakhand to Goa and now Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. The only blemish was Punjab which was ruled by BJP ally the Akali Dal and was wrested by the Congress. India now has 19 states with BJP-led or BJP supported governments. Fourteen of them were formed after the BJP led by Narendra Modi swept to power in the Centre in 2014.

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