The just concluded assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have produced expected results. In both States, the BJP was victorious, but quite a few political observers are of the view that in Gujarat, where the BJP has been in power for over two decades, its latest return to power with a reduced margin is more an electoral victory than a political one. In 2012, the BJP had won 115 out of the 182 Assembly seats. This time the BJP was able to win only 99 seats. The Congress which had only 61 seats in 2012, was able to increase its tally to 80 seats. What is even more significant perhaps is that in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the BJP had won in 166 of the Assembly segments of Gujarat. The fall from the results of the 2012 Assembly elections and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is significant for the BJP considering that the party has come to power in Gujarat for the sixth time. But that apart, both the Prime Minister and the BJP chief are from Gujarat. Despite these advantages, the BJP was just seven seats ahead of the bare majority mark of 92, while the Congress was just 12 seats short of the majority mark and up to 80 seats from its 2012 tally of just 19 seats. No wonder, there are political observers who consider the Congress to have won a political victory in Gujarat this time, given the extent of its gains. These gains are significant even in terms of the percentage of vote share. The BJP has maged to get 49.1 per cent of the votes this time as opposed to the Congress tally of 41.4 per cent. But the shift from 2012 has been just 1.1 per cent in the case of the BJP whereas it has been 2.4 per cent in the case of the Congress.
In Himachal Pradesh, where the BJP has come back to power after a break of five years, the party won 44 of the 68 seats as opposed to the Congress tally of 21. In percentage terms, the BJP’s gain has been 10.2 per cent whereas the Congress gain has been just one per cent. Virbhadra Singh, the outgoing Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister appears to have led his party to a rout even while maging to retain his Arki seat. The latest Assembly election results have brought down the number of States of India ruled by the Congress to just five.
Regardless of the reduction in the total number of seats won in Gujarat, there has been grudging admission within the BJP that the efforts of Prime Minister rendra Modi have indeed made a difference to the results, and that had it not been for his presence, the results may well have been different for the party. Modi’s main plank for the election campaign has been development. But it is time he realized that the mere slogan of development will not carry his party very far. The support for the BJP in Gujarat has been considerably eroded, and the situation might get even worse for the party in the days to come if it fails to shift its focus from big cities to the villages. In fact, this could well be one of the main reasons for the decline in the rural votes for the BJP in Gujarat. The trend is bound to spread to other parts of the country if the BJP fails to take corrective measures now and make them visible to the electorate before the general elections of 2019. Since the alysis of elections gets done in the cities, one often tends to forget that the real India lives in the villages, and that one cannot afford to overlook this fact of life if one is talking of all-inclusive development for the country.