November 7, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether AAP can dethrone Gujarat in the upcoming elections. We also look at the degradation of sand dunes in Goa, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Gujarat Polls – Can AAP Dethrone BJP?
It’s not just the United States where elections fever has taken hold. In India, the next few months will see some crucial states go to the polls. Each party has been out and about trying to woo key voting blocs. Congress is continuing its nationwide yatra, while BJP and AAP are at loggerheads in the national capital and elsewhere.
One state to focus on is Gujarat. The Election Commission (EC) announced the state would go to the polls in the first week of December. The political landscape in the state has been constant for the past several years, with the BJP dominating. Is that about to change? Will the AAP give them a run for their money?
When one mentions Gujarat’s political landscape, it’s hard not to think about the BJP’s dominance. Going back to 1995, the BJP won 122 seats in the assembly elections. Observers said anti-incumbency against Congress wasn’t much of a factor, but the BJP’s grassroots coalition building did the trick. In many ways, it was the beginning of the party cementing its place in the state.
1998 was something of a turning point with the emergence of Hindutva and religious polarization. The BJP expanded its electoral base as caste and communal identities converged. The Sangh took on a more active role in helping the BJP, and it paid dividends. It won 117 seats with a 47.44% vote share. However, soon after, factionalism arose within the party. In the 2000 Zilla Parishad polls, it won only 192 of the 717 seats. Keshubhai Patel was forced to resign. Narendra Modi was appointed as a caretaker Chief Minister.
Modi faced some challenges. Among them was anti-incumbency from the Patidars in the Saurashtra region and his predecessor’s inability to properly rehabilitate the Kutch earthquake victims. Modi weathered the storm and proved he could steady the ship. The party won 117 seats in the 2007 polls. In the 2012 polls, it was deja vu as the BJP cruised to victory.
2017 was a little different. For starters, Modi wasn’t on the ticket. The AAP entered the fray, albeit unsuccessfully. The BJP won 99 seats, its worst performance since 1995. Congress won 77 seats, its best since 1985. At the time, there were agitations from the Patidars demanding reservations. The business community suffered due to the GST implementation. These issues played into Congress’ hands.
The debutant of 2017 was the AAP. It contested about 30 seats, and its candidates lost their deposits. Five years later, the landscape has changed. It’s now in power in Delhi and Punjab. The party hopes to carry that momentum to Gujarat with a near non-existent Congress, hoping to be the biggest threat to the BJP. What are their chances?
VIEW: Tailwinds for the AAP
While the BJP has been dominant in the state for more than a decade, its performances have declined. It’s got some headwinds to deal with. It’s evident from Modi’s and Amit Shah’s frequent trips to the state in recent weeks and months. You bring in the big guns to either shore up a victory, ensure there’s no complacency, or give people a wake-up call. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, only a year into his term, has yet to find his footing.
The AAP has momentum. Victory in Punjab was proof that its kitchen table issues of education, power, water supply, and healthcare resonated. It’s no surprise that the party is employing similar rhetoric in Gujarat. The party also announced former television anchor Isudan Gadhvi as its Chief Ministerial candidate. He earned praise as a journalist for criticising the government while debating important issues. He also belongs to the OBC community, which makes up 48% of the state’s population. That could count for something.
The BJP is on the offensive against the AAP, fully realising it as the biggest threat with the Congress fading into the background. The latter failed to capitalise on the BJP’s relatively poor performance in 2017. As its problems continued to compound in the years after, the AAP worked its way to the front.
COUNTERVIEW: Can’t bet against the BJP
It’s brave to bet against the horse that’s won so many times. The BJP’s a juggernaut in the state. Yes, it’s had a few hiccups, but that’s to be expected. Modi campaigning aggressively in the state is the party using its most prized asset. He wasn’t there just to address rallies but to inaugurate infrastructure projects.
The Patidars have played a role in shaping electoral narratives and outcomes. The likes of Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor quit the Congress and chose the BJP as their best hope. This is crucial for the BJP as it looks to consolidate the Patidars and the tribal votes in the state. According to the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the BJP has strong support among Patidars and upper castes.
While the state unit of the BJP hasn’t been perfect, it has overseen a significant rise in investments in Gujarat. It has been able to woo companies like Tata and Airbus recently. The party has touted the impact of big business in the state in improving infrastructure and providing employment. Combined with its aggressive approach and rhetoric against the opposition parties and its urban stronghold, the BJP still has the upper hand.
- The Political Historiography of Modern Gujarat – Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC)
- Over the years, falling seats, but nearly half the votes still for BJP in Gujarat – Indian Express
- Gujarat, Himachal Assembly polls: Acid test awaits BJP, Congress as AAP joins fray – India Today
- AAP contested 30 seats in Gujarat, played foil in 2, lost deposit in most – India Today
- In Gujarat polls, a jittery BJP takes on a pugnacious AAP – Indian Express
- Isudan Gadhvi: From TV Anchor To AAP’s Presumptive Chief Minister – NDTV
- In Poll-Bound Gujarat, BJP Banks on Modi Factor, Congress on Caste Arithmetic, and AAP on ‘Change’ – The Wire
- BJP fighting for victory margins in Gujarat – Deccan Herald
- Gujarat Elections: Is it Advantage BJP or Can Congress, AAP Put Up a Fight? – The Quint
- How are political parties placed a month before the Gujarat Assembly elections? – The Hindu
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) The AAP is in a prime position ahead of the Gujarat polls.
b) The BJP is still the favourite for the Gujarat polls.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Morbi bridge dents not just the Gujarat model. It’s an infrastructure hole India can’t unsee
For the Left:
Why foreign capitals are taking note of Modi government’s foreign policy
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Families face ailments due to severe pollution (Delhi) – For the third day in a row, the national capital’s air quality remained “severe.” The majority of this has been attributed to farmers burning stubble in neighbouring states. According to a LocalCircles survey, at least four out of every five families in the national capital have a member who experiences symptoms due to pollution.
Why it matters: According to medical professionals, air pollution reduces lung immunity, and pneumonia can become serious if the lungs are exposed to any illness. Following Covid, the lungs of many people have lower reserves leading to respiratory failure earlier than usual.
Casual attire banned for ALA employees (Assam) – The Assam Legislative Assembly (ALA) Secretariat employees are no longer permitted to report to work in casual attire, including jeans, T-shirts, and leggings for female employees. This is being done in accordance with the Speaker, Biswajit Daimary’s instructions, according to a directive issued by the Principal Secretary of the ALA.
Why it matters: The employees in question are those who are paid a daily wage, a set salary, or a monthly honorarium. The order further said that at the Assembly Sessions and any other formal ALA occasions, programmes, etc., as and when determined by the relevant authority, all personnel, regardless of level, must wear the official uniform, to be specified and provided by this Secretariat, mandatorily.
‘Secure Fishing’ application launched (Odisha) – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in India and the Fisheries and Animal Resources Development (FARD) department of the government of Odisha have released an app called “Secure Fishing” to empower fishermen by delivering real-time information.
Why it matters: The programme, according to FARD Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain, aims to empower the fishermen by offering real-time information, insights, and analytics. Through the app, they will have access to vital, near-real-time personalised climate and ocean state information services, which will lessen the vulnerability of fishermen, boost their income, and contribute to food security.
Degradation of sand dunes (Goa) – Several priceless sand dunes have deteriorated as a result of development and tourism operations. Goa’s coast, which was formerly thought to be pristine, has undergone significant changes in its geological and ecological structure throughout time, all because of tourism and the attendant infrastructure needs, massive construction projects, and unplanned growth.
Why it matters: Ecosystems in sand dunes, which are older than 6,000 years, have been most severely affected by this “development”. Due to their dual function as sand banks and a natural barrier against oceanic pressures like cyclones and tsunamis, dunes help to keep the dynamic equilibrium of the beach.
First International Indie Music Festival (Kerala) – At the Kerala Arts and Crafts Village in Kovalam, the state will host its first-ever International Indie Music Festival from November 9–13. A first of its kind not only in Kerala but also in all of India, the International Indie Music Festival will mark the start of Kerala’s annual music festival.
Why it matters: At this event, a total of 21 musical groups from both India and outside will perform. Fourteen Indian bands will perform, including When Chai Met Toast and Agam, among others. Seven international bands and vocalists will also perform at the festival, including Roc Flowers from Italy, Lyia Meta from Malaysia, Anslom from Papua New Guinea, and Will Johns and Sami Chohfi from the UK. The festival has been deemed an interesting way to boost tourism in the state.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
2% – A recent survey conducted by LocalCircles revealed that only 2% of Indian households get drinkable quality water.