A to Z of Gujarat polls

All eyes were on Gujarat for the past couple of months. The Assembly results will give Opposition confidence that the fight for 2019 is not over yet. A look at what defined the election:

A for Alpesh – One among the youth troika that led the Opposition charge. The OBC leader makes his debut as MLA.

B for Bharatiya Tribal Party – JD(U) rebels led by Chhottubhai Vasava, who snubbed Nitish Kumar to vote for Ahmed Patel in Rajya Sabha polls, made its mark in tribal areas.

C for Congress – At one stage, appeared winning the game. Tweaked its campaign to have a soft-Hindutva flavour.

D for Demonetisation – Created heart burns for BJP. Many spoke about its ‘ill-effects’.

E for EVMs – Many pointed fingers at possible manipulation of EVMs.

F for Farmers – Unrest in agrarian sector was one of the highlights of Opposition campaign.

G for GST – Dubbed Gabbar Singh Tax, traders in Gujarat were upset with the new tax regime. But BJP managed to minimise casualties.

H for Hardik – Under-age to contest, the Patidar youth added fire-power to Congress. Campaigned vigorously against BJP.

I for Innuendos – From Manishankar Aiyar’s ‘neech’ to PM Modi’s ‘Auragazeb Raj’ and ‘Pakistan’ to posters of Ahmed Patel as Chief Minister, innuendos were the one thing that rained in this campaign. Sex CDs also made its way to campaign.

J for Jignesh – The Dalit leader made it to the Assembly in his debut contest. Helped Congress build a narrative.

K for Kolis – As Patidars’ anger turned towards BJP, saffron party tried to woo Kolis in Saurashtra region. Congress too did attend to the community.

L for Land – Land for landless was among the main campaign issues in rural belts.

M for Modi – Did 40-odd rallies in Gujarat where he turned emotional, raking up Gujarat ‘asmita’ (pride). BJP did return to power but with lesser seats.

N for Nitin Patel – He was overlooked for the Chief Minister’s post when Anandibhen Patel resigned. Will he get a shot at CM post?

O for Opposition – Results will cheer opposition. Talks on opposition unity to take on Modi to gain momentum.

P for Pakistan – Pakistan did return as a campaign point for BJP.

Q for Quota – Patidars did raise it, Congress promised to work on it, a ‘deal’ was sealed. BJP countered that Congress was misleading the community.

R for Rahul – Temple-hopping Rahul led the Congress charge. Two days ahead of the results, assumed the office of Congress president.

S for Surat – How will Surat, the diamond hub, react to BJP after demonetisation and GST was keenly watched.

T for Turncoats – Shankersing Vaghela and supporters deserted Congress. Not much damage done.

U for Upper Castes – Congress zeroed in on OBCs to drive their electoral strategy. Though not in huge numbers, BJP appeared to have managed to keep them with it.

V for Vijay Rupani – Fortunes fluctuated for the CM during counting but managed to win. Will he remain the CM?

W for Women – Opinion polls suggested women were slowly moving against Modi. But at the end, BJP still managed to win

X for X-factor – Parties will now start thinking of what will be their X-factor in the coming polls.

Y for Youth – Focus was also on youth’s narrative. Impatience of youth on job and education opportunities scenario were amplified.

Z for Zero – None of the voters in Gajadi in Morbi district turned out to vote protesting against continuing water problem in their village.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald website on Dec 18, 2017)

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