<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both sides are claiming the battle for Gujarat is a done deal. Congress senses a surging support leading to a sweep and BJP is comforting itself with the idea of a good majority. A majority which will see its score card improve. Both propositions are far from true. If you go beyond the rhetoric and look at the real ground situation, this election is going down to the wire. BJP has the organizational advantage but anger within the trading community and Patels is absolutely palpable. You can feel it in Surat. One doesn’t need to talk about it. But central to this election remains the M factor which makes the fight so close.It is Money and Muslim which plainly and simply dominates the Gujarat campaign. BJP’s campaign is a two-tier cake. The base of the campaign remains same like the old days when Muslims were politically far more visible and assertive on the streets. The idea is to attach a socially corroding entity with Muslims who bullied the passive Gujarati Hindu and made it difficult for its women to walk safely on the streets. Muslim, a word is not mentioned but the audience is asked to relive the moment.The problem of that strategy is it doesn’t connect with the young generation of voters born after BJP came to power. They have not lived the past but have been asked to relive it by sharing memories of the elders. At the end, Muslim also gets tagged with the KHAM factor, a caste agglomeration which led to a massive victory for the Congress in 1980s. KHAM stands for Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslims. The attack ends with KHAM being a caste grouping opposed to Hindutva laced with development. The latter is proposed as a better deal than KHAM. Hindutva gets positioned as a counter to the caste as the main ingredient of election.
ALSO READ Gujarat elections 2017: ‘Chai pe Charcha’ returns with ‘Vikas’, BJP’s carpet-bombing session kicks off today On the other hand, Congress too has not moved beyond money mantra. Rahul Gandhi has only spoken about how money has become elusive for the small traders and business community. Whether it is Jay Shah’s money, demonetization, or pinch felt by traders who are up in arms against BJP on the issue of GST, he has ensured that campaign doesn’t move beyond it. Rahul’s money campaign is also laced with soft Hindutva. It is ensured that tilak does not recede from his forehead through the day. No temple is missed and all popular eating joints are covered with khakras and chai dominating the photo shoot.The tension between the two M’s is one of the two major talking points of this election. The other undoubtedly, is how the influential Patidar community will vote. Hardik Patel is an untested element in electoral politics. But even his detractors are amazed at the crowd pulling capability of the Patidar leader who at young age of 23 has sent shivers down the BJP’s spine. You have to see the photos to believe it. Crowds just walk in. His support base is substantial. Hardik’s journey has been spectacular but not much different from caste based leaders in India who shoot to fame for a short time only for politics to cut them to size later. But that will be different story to tell. BJP’s only hope is that Patidars would only spite them but not bite them to damage them electorally.
ALSO READ Gujarat elections 2017: Tug of war between two BJP camps for 11 seatsNarendra Modi remains immensely popular and BJP’s USP is cutting-edge election machinery which goes down to the last voter. It doesn’t depends on public mood but uses its own internal resources to mobilise the core base to vote. For this very reason, BJP has the edge in this election but it does not mean that Congress campaign has been poor. Rahul Gandhi has drawn people’s attention. His campaign has been relentless and has forced BJP to respond. This is new in Gujarat politics.Now the question is as to what will happen at the hustings. Answer is very clear. If the fight is between Congress and BJP, then BJP will win Gujarat effortlessly but if the election becomes a fight between people of Gujarat and BJP, the latter will lose and cause a political earthquake in New Delhi leading to sharp political alignment. Voting is still a few days away and death overs are left. With Modi moving into the fray, the battle between two M’s will intensify.
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