Gujarat Assembly Elections 2022 – An early overview

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I am within my senses when I am writing Gujarat Assembly Elections 2022- An early overview because Gujarati media has already started speculating that there will be early elections in Gujarat for sure. Since 2002 when the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi decided to take snap polls, Gujarat goes to the mandatory five-year exercise during the months of November and December, but this time the speculations by the local media for early elections may come true.

Last year the top leadership of the BJP took a sensational decision and asked the then Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to resign, and within two days they installed Bhupendra Patel, a largely unknown name and face as the chief minister of the state. After Bhupendra Patel took over the reins, the entire Rupani cabinet was changed and all 22 faces in the current cabinet are fresh and new. At that time I predicted that Gujarat may go for a snap poll as early as March this year.

But, then I realized that the country will see five major states going for the polls during March hence adding one more headache and that too the most important state for the BJP (Gujarat) is definitely not on the cards. But the speculations I have mentioned above are that if BJP wins these elections, especially Uttar Pradesh, in a really big way then Gujarat may see an early assembly election. Mind you, for that to happen it needs at least two months for the election commission to arrange everything and that means that Gujarat may go for polls during the month of May.

May and June are considered to be terrible months for Gujarat as the temperatures cross 40 degrees almost every day in most parts of the state. This means that percentage of the voting may go lower and few people will choose not to come out and vote. This will not be a good situation for any political party of Gujarat, especially the Bharatiya Janata Party, who rides on huge popular mandates for the last many years in Gujarat. In the last few assemblies and Lok Sabha elections, more than 70% of Gujaratis have voted and given BJP good and big numbers in terms of seats respectively.

If we talk about the weather then the Lok Sabha elections, for the last many years are conducted during the month of May-June only and yet Gujaratis have come out in large numbers during those times as well. So, if the current BJP government takes that fact into consideration then there can be a possibility of early elections in the state in the month of June.

One more possibility may also get consideration and that is the next possible wave of COVID-19.  The general observation is that it takes at least six to seven months to start a new wave of this virus once the last one has ended. The third wave in the state brought by the Omicron variant, which currently is on the decline, may end in the second week of February. So, if we add six to seven months to that then it will be September when there is a possibility of another wave. As per precedent if that wave stays for two months then November will be the best time to hold Gujarat assembly elections 2022.

So, all in all, it seems the Gujarat BJP will not take any ‘chance’ to hold an early assembly election in the state. The more the BJP spends time in the office, the more it will be beneficial for them, because sadly, the opposition in Gujarat is still not united or not even a fighting force, to say the least. The only opposition party in Gujarat, the Indian National Congress has a new state president, and the groupism in state Congress is the problem for many years now. The home of the second opposition party, which claims itself as a strong option to the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party or AAP is currently in a disarray after some quick resignations of popular faces in the party.

The past state president and the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly showed their desire to resign from their respective posts when Congress couldn’t register a single win for the second time in a row in the last Lok Sabha elections and it took almost three years for the Congress leaders sitting in New Delhi to honor their desire and to make Jagdish Thakore as GPCC chief. In between, they tried Patidar Anamat Andolan face Hardik Patel as their working president, but it appears that, that the appointment was only to please Hardik Patel and not to inject buzz in the state cadre.

All in all, nothing is good in Gujarat Congress; it is still directionless, confused, and clueless, which it is for last almost three decades.  Congress in Gujarat is looking for a miracle and not applying hard work to win the next assembly elections and it sees that miracle in Naresh Patel the head of one faction of Patidars and head of the Khodaldham Mandir Trust, Kagvad in Saurashtra. During the last assembly elections of Gujarat in 2017, Patidar Andolan almost miraculously got Congress into power but a last-minute fight by the BJP pushed them inches behind the magical 92 seat mark and won Gujarat back.

So, in Naresh Patel Congress see another savior, him being a Patidar leader. But, the problem is that Naresh Patel himself is not able to decide whether he should come forward and support the Congress in open or spoil his relations with the BJP top leadership in Gujarat by doing that. Naresh Patel may have a good following within the Patidar cult, but the fact that the Congress is missing is that there are many other casts and sects in Gujarat as well who more than Patidars in number are and their unity only managed BJP to win 99 seats last time. With the current political scenario in Gujarat, it will be impossible to win any election by relying on a single cast vote.

This time even Patidars don’t look united as they were in 2017. Without any question, the Patidar Anamat Andolan was nothing but anti-BJP government at that time, but the way Hardik Patel conducted himself after the agitation got over, has made Patidars feel betrayed by him. During the agitation, Hardik promised them that he will not enter politics at any cost but after the dust settled he swiftly joined the Congress. After this most of the Patidars have gone back to supporting the BJP. So, Naresh Patel doesn’t enjoy the full support of Patidars just like Hardik Patel was some five years ago. Hence the scenario will remain difficult for Congress in the upcoming assembly elections of Gujarat, even if Naresh Patel joins the party.

There is no third-front in Gujarat since its inception, but during the last Municipal Corporation elections in 2021, AAP captured a particular area in Surat municipality, and talks about AAP gaining momentum in Gujarat started to make rounds in the political reporters’ circle. But, since then there is nothing significant from the side of AAP has happened in Gujarat. Some famous faces did join the party like Isudan Gadhvi and Mahesh Savani, but that hardly gave the big jump party expected. Last month Mahesh Savani just after observing an indefinite fast for AAP left the party without giving any prior signal to their top leadership.

Mahesh Savani is a big name in Surat and among Patidars, and he left the party in this manner has not only doomed the possible chance of AAP winning a solitary seat in Gujarat, but even the chance of making its presence felt in Gujarat’s politics. Despite the known face of Isudan Gadhvi remaining in the party on the surface, it looks as if the state president Gopal Italiya is the only one who is running the show. AAP lacks cadre-based politics in Gujarat just like it does in most parts of the country.

If I have to make a prediction for the Gujarat Assembly Elections 2022 result today, whenever happens from now and till the voting date arrives, I can surely suggest that the BJP will regain power in the state with more than 120 seats, 21 more than what it got last time. The Congress is expected to get around 55 seats and the rest will be shared between BKP, NCP, and maybe AAP.

Hope you will appreciate my effort to bring the current political picture of Gujarat before you through this blog. I will do another round of such analysis in the next few months, so kindly give your views in the comments section as that would encourage me for sure.

Till we meet again it’s Aavjo from me.

31.01.2022, Monday

Ahmedabad

SiddTalks

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