Not just the state of Gujarat but people across the entire country have their eyes fixed on the state, which is a hotbed to the hottest and most gruesome political battle of Narendra Modi era so far. When Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) marched into the electoral battlegrounds in the past, it was just the mandate at stake but in Gujarat, it’s more than that. Gujarat is the home state of Prime Minister Modi, one of the most popular PMs in the nation’s history, where he enjoyed an undisputed contention from 2002 to until 2013 when he ultimately gave up his chair to assume the greatest executive helm of the country, Prime Ministership. Gujarat is undergoing Assembly elections again and here’s why BJP, which has been reigning supreme in the state unchallenged for past 22 years, needs to be eliminated from the state.
The farmers across the country, especially in Gujarat, have been in a state of distress for several years now and the controversial decision of demonetisation by Narendra Modi-led BJP proved further detrimental to their condition. Traders associated with the agricultural department were also hit by the note ban as they were forced to pay with cheques to the parties – farmers – which only dealt in cash. The entire agricultural system was on a verge of collapse but it somehow sustained itself. The dissent among the affected rural community towards BJP and its nonchalant ways has always been evident. During the 2012 Gujarat elections, Congress won 49 seats out of total 98 rural seats while BJP could only manage 44. It should not come as a surprise if Congress triumphs again in the rural areas of Gujarat.
Since coming to power, BJP has routinely projected Gujarat as the paragon of development and Narendra Modi has been one articulate champion of it but when that development is put under the microscopic lens, it drastically falls short on many levels. According to a Business Standard survey report, the top expectation of the Gujaratis from the next state government is better employment opportunities. The ruling authorities have always claimed that they have provided employment to a large number of people but in reality, Gujarat comprises of almost 94% of the total informal workforce which earns low wages and have poor social security. It should be noted that Gujarat is the only state in the country to record a steep decline when it comes to securing a formal job. The wages provided to workers in Gujarat fall in the list of 20 states that lie at the nadir in terms of wages.
When the quality of education is taken into consideration, Gujarat’s performance is alarmingly abysmal. Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) evaluated school students in Gujarat on three parameters – reading in Gujarati, arithmetic and English comprehension – and the results were extremely poor. 23.4% couldn’t read Gujarati, 65.2% failed to do division and 62.4% couldn’t read English sentences. In a 2014 report issued by Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, Gujarat occupied the bottom places of the primary-level education rankings in terms of providing access to schools to children. Among the 35 states and union territories, Gujarat was placed at 33rd position. Among the states that have been catering and aiding to the education of girl child, Gujarat was in the list of poorly-performing bottom 5 states as only 73% girls aged 15-17 years were enrolled in Gujarat schools.
Whether it has been a forcing house or has it been a mere course of nature, the jury is still out on the rampant communal violence in Gujarat. The BJP-ruled state has seen the two most horrifying violent incidents that occurred in the country in the past three decades – Babri Masjid demolition and 2002 riots. The violent clashes have routinely occurred in the state resulting in multiple casualties year-on-year. According to a 2013 report by the Ministry of Home Affairs, at least 2,746 people lost their lives to communal violence in BJP ruled states from 2010 to 2013, making it 12.1 casualties per million. Majority of the states now fall under BJP rule and if the recent incidents of communal violence in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana are taken into account, the numbers that come up are absolutely horrifying.
The rock-solid faith among people towards BJP was shaken when Dalits and Patidars began their agitation against the state government demanding hike in the reservation. The dissent regarding the poor governance was such that BJP had to remove Anandiben Patel from the Chief Minister chair and put Vijay Rupani instead to appease the dissatisfied public. Again, Vijay Rupani was a mere replacement to the entity that was actually elected by the Gujaratis, hence, the incumbent does not enjoy the popularity levels that his predecessors did. Congress has a good reputation among the rural masses and only recently, it joined hands with Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel which further boosts its chances. The fate of both the political parties will be decided on December 18, 2017.
Watch NewsX’s take on Gujarat Assembly Elections: