Is BJP way too overconfident like in the case of Bihar for Gujarat Polls?

The Assembly elections in Gujarat are very important for the cause of Hindutva. There are many reasons for that, and the major is that the Congress should not be allowed to come to power in a state that saw the Godhra carnage and the subsequent riots. Imagine how it would be if Arjun Modhvadia and/or Shaktisinh Gohil become Chief Minister of Gujarat. They were both involved in a fraud with Sanjiv Bhat to frame Narendra Modi, as mentioned by SIT.

 The opinion polls predicting BJP as getting a majority in Gujarat should not be taken at face value, they can go horribly wrong like in Bihar in 2015. 

Uday Mahurkar is a respected journalist. He has correctly predicted all Assembly elections in Gujarat since 2002. He says that this time in 2017 the BJP may lose.

Though what I will write may already be known, and I am no qualified person to give long lectures on such a topic, I am just giving a list of a few suggestions which could perhaps help. Any or all of them can be accepted or rejected. This is a battle not just for the BJP, but for the Hindu society, for the nation, for ideology. All nationalists are fighting this. The following are my unsolicited suggestions

1-Hardik Patel is getting support from the youth. The BJP seems to be overconfident of victory in Gujarat, like it was in Bihar in Nov 2015. At that time, the BJP ended up getting a crushing defeat. Dr Pravin Togadia is a Patel and hails from Saurashtra region of Gujarat, like Keshubhai Patel. He should be urged to campaign for the BJP (directly or indirectly) and reduce the damage which Hardik Patel will cause.  Entire Sangh Parivar needs to work in Gujarat with full force with perfect synergy. Even the help of Shankersinh Vaghela could be sough

No matter how much the leaders campaign (like Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel, Alpesh, or Jignesh) majority of the people in normal elections vote for an MLA, not a Chief Minister or a leader. Perhaps this was one reason why the BJP-led NDA lost Bihar badly in November 2015 despite the PM drawing huge, massive crowds. The gains made by Congress-Hardik-Jignesh-Alpesh combine can count for very little if people vote for local MLA candidate, and not for people like Hardik Patel. Congress has surely lost some advantage by their choice of candidates, since they have given tickets to outsiders like those of Hardik-Alpesh groups ignoring loyal workers. The campaigning by the PM will definitely help the BJP, and count for a lot. But one cannot guarantee that people will necessarily vote for a Prime Minister, and not an MLA.

2- Identify seats in Gujarat in 2017 where it is quite likely for the BJP to win. In the 2014 LS polls, when the BJP swept Gujarat winning 26/26 seats with 59% vote share, it led in 165 Assembly seats. BJP is strong in urban areas, and not so much in rural areas. Semi-urban areas also. Congress won all but 3 of its 60 odd seats in 2017 Gujarat polls in rural areas. At present, along with that there are several other factors like GST, Caste Groups of leaders like Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakur and Jignesh Mevani. There seem to be some more seats which appear difficult for the BJP. Here identification of seats where BJP can win easily should be made. Eg. 80-100 seats of Gujarat which are urban, semi-urban and where BJP can win. Concentrate on them.

3- The then Gujarat Chief Minister and current PM Narendra Modi learnt from the defeats of the BJP in low turnouts and ensured that BJP workers work and take people out of their homes to vote in Gujarat in December 2007 and hence won a huge majority (117 seats) with almost 60% voting done. The 2004 Lok Sabha polls saw a mere 45% voting in Gujarat which saw BJP win only 14 out of 26 seats, with Congress winning  12. The current PM learnt from this and ensured a high turnout of almost 60% in Gujarat in December 2007. But the 2009 LS polls in Gujarat again saw only 48% voting done, and the final tally was BJP 15, Congress 11. A good turnout is essential to ensure a BJP win.

4- In the identified seats where there is a prospect of a BJP victory, the following should be done. The voter’s demography should be carefully studied. And the BJP workers should be assigned tasks to ensure maximum voting by the castes which are likely to vote for the BJP. For example, in a seat with 28 % Brahmin vote, if the BJP fields a winnable Brahmin candidate, then the cadres should work to ensure more that more than 90 % BRAHMINS of that seat vote.(There would also be no point in getting people out to vote who would not anyway vote for the BJP.) Actually, maximum voting will benefit the BJP most, since BJP’s opponents (Muslims and some other caste people) anyways go to vote. Hence the focus should be on getting maximum voters out, but in particular, in getting the community’s voters out which is likely to vote for the BJP

LOW VOTING LIKE 45 % of 2004 WILL DOOM THE BJP. 90% Muslims anyway vote. If total 45 % vote it means 90 % out of the 10% Muslims voted i.e. 9 out of 45 votes polled were by Muslims- 20% OF THE ACTUAL VOTES POLLED! High voting from Hindus and potential BJP voters is a must. BJP must work overtime to ensure that more than 90 % of the Brahmins, upper castes and potential BJP supporters go out to vote. The BJP’s organizational clout in Gujarat should ensure this. Despite me saying this 100 times, in the Lok Sabha 2009 polls in Nagpur, hardly 40 % voting from Nagpur West was done which is a BJP stronghold. This low voting from the BJP stronghold resulted in Congress winning Nagpur seat by 24,000 votes. Had West Nagpur seen 70% voting, BJP would have easily won. Same for other seats with BJP supporters

5- For ensuring a high voting, every BJP worker must be given a task out of voters list. Each and every BJP member, from former Chief Ministers to ordinary workers must be assigned some task to bring out people on voting day. This was done in Gujarat in December 2007. If there are 3 lakh voters in a seat, around 1.6 lakh may vote out of which BJP would need 55,000 odd votes to win. For this every worker should be given 25 houses- he must ensure that everyone out of those 25 houses comes out to vote, meaning 100 voters. The voters too should be classified as “LIKELY BJP SUPPORTERS” and “BJP Opponents”.  The strong organization of the BJP in Gujarat must be made to do this task successfully in practice, not just on paper.

6-  Congress in Gujarat needs to be attacked on several issues. First is the Godhra carnage. Till date the Congress has never said Muslims burnt the train in Godhra. It fully supported the Lalu-appointed illegal Banerjee Committee in Jan 2005 when it tried to whitewash the Muslims’ heinous crime of Godhra. In Feb 2002, the Congress leaders like Amarsinh Chaudhary blamed Ram sewaks for provoking the ‘incident’. Rahul Gandhi has tried to take a soft Hindutva line in Gujarat now. He needs to be cornered on Godhra and asked to condemn the attack and blame the attackers for it.

Second, the fact of Congress workers slaughtering a cow in Kerala few days ago must be mentioned repeatedly which will hit the Congress hard. An innocent cow was killed to protest against Narendra Modi!

7-   The BJP stunned everyone, including itself and some of its most diehard supporters in the November  2010 Bihar Assembly elections by winning an astonishing 91 out of 102 seats it contested, and 5 out of those 102 were no-hope seats with massive Muslim presence. A good strategy with proper implementation may give a similar result in Gujarat too in 2017, which is needed to make BJP win 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

-M D Deshpande