Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Why the Lotus May Not Bloom

The GST issue in isolation would not have had a significant impact on the Gujarat election, but in tandem with high anti-incumbency sentiments and an overdose of irrational development, it could lead to negative traction against the BJP. 


The assembly elections in Gujarat received substantial media traction even before the polls were announced and it would have remained a run-of-the-mill electoral contest had it not been for a faux pas by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in announcing the electoral process. The date of the election results was declared first and there was a long-studied silence before the date of the election was announced. This allowed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat ample time and space to stage a so(a)p opera and a show of generosity towards the voters, which took the form of an unconditional waiver of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the farmers using micro-irrigation systems, hiking of allowances and longer maternity leave for employees on contractual basis, enhancing monetary benefits to Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers in health, laying the foundation stone for the second phase of the Ahmedabad Metro project and sanctioning a substantial grant from state exchequer to assuage the dominant Patel community which is up in arms against the state government. The inordinate delay by the ECI in announcing the two phases of voting in the state and the last-minute patronisation exercise of the BJP government has thrown a spanner in the paradigm of competitive politics, which, has now turned into a battle of political prestige between the BJP and the Congress in Gujarat. 

The controversy in the public domain was finally laid to rest with the announcement of election dates. However, it raised a central question as to whether it was a case of failing political nerve of the BJP due to poor showing in the grass-root elections of 2015 and strong anti-incumbency sentiments against it, or a well-strategised political move to curate an electoral ground for the saffron outfit.

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