Published On : Mon, Dec 18th, 2017

The two faces of Gujarat and how they voted

Ahmedabad: Amit Shah, BJP President was seen in a new avataar this afternoon. In a press conference held after the results were declared, he was seen listening to, and replying to questions from all journos most patiently.

Predictably he did gloat over the ‘victory’ at the hustings, however hollow it may be, and the setback he blamed on the opposition, completely.

“They dragged down the tone and tenor of the campaigning, they called the PM derogatory names, they brought in caste divide…” etc. etc. (Was he implying that the people of his home state got swayed by such a negative campaign?)

The real issues that almost lost the BJP this crucial battle
The fact of the matter is, BJP could have very well lost the battle entirely if not for a couple of upsets for Rahul Gandhi and Congress. Aiyer with his ‘neech’ remark and Kapil Sibal with his utterances on Ayodhya.

These were self goals for the Congress and lucky strokes for BJP. They deviated attention of the voters from the real burning issues that Gujarat people are facing:

Like it or not, Gujarat, like the rest of the country, is going through an agrarian crisis. Starting from cotton farmers, every farmer is under severe financial stress.

Before the 2014 elections, they were promised the moon and stars, moon dust is all they got. In a way the Patidar andolan is also an offshoot of this, since most Gujarat farmers are Patels. And OBCs.

‘Vikas’ in this state has also been very selective. The Sabarmati river side of Ahmedabad, designed on the French Siene riverside is living proof of this.

To create the grand setting, a canal from Sardar Sarovar has been diverted to Ahmedabad. Downstream after all the waste water from the city pours itself into this river, (supposedly after ‘treatment’) and is joined by all the industrial effluent the picture is completely different. The ‘beautiful’ river turns into a sluggish nallah, and the villages on its two sides are forced to consume this dirty water.

As mentioned in a German research article called ‘The mega pipeline:
“Downstream the Sabarmati reality does not reflect what is happening on paper. Formally, the village Viramgam is being supplied with water, because the Fatewadi irrigation system is in place. Formally, the pumping station is taking in all sewage water supplied to it and could even handle more. Formally, the effluent going into the river from the Mega Pipelinehas been treated twice and is safe to be released into the water. On paper, no issues exist and thus no action is taken. In reality however, farmers’ lands remain dry, hospital linens are being washed downstream of a sewage pipe release point and bubbles are rising from a river that is used to irrigate lands growing vegetables only a few hundred meters downstream.

Ahmedabad city is again embracing its river, developing the riverside running through the city and taking steps to improve the water quality in the area. On the other hand, however, just beyond the barrage environmental injustice continues outside of the cities’ sight.”

The results are a reflection of this unequal picture.

Backward, rural areas of Gujarat like Kutch and Saurashtra have overwhelmingly gone to Congress as has North Gujarat except for Ahmadabad district.

Urban Surat has also voted in BJP again despite the huge unrest witnessed just some months ago against GST.

Did the voter mood change in this area due to the prompt corrective action taken by Modi – Jaitley? Why were rural issues not so adeptly handled?

Gujarat, having voted for BJP consecutively for decades, and despite the erst while CM of the state being elected PM the human index parameters of the state are dismal. Whether it is public health, welfare of women and children or education – Gujarat is not among even the top 10 states, forget the top 5.

Is the BJP leadership taking cognizance of all these facts? Or has it become a party of rich industrialists and businessmen as alleged by its opponents?

These results also show that the ruling party, that rules over majority of the states in the country now, is a very well oiled machine where fighting elections is concerned. There is no denying the hard work each and every party worker puts in for this cause, but the 3 years since 2014 also show that many of the pre election promises do not translate into action.

Money power, rhetoric, divisive politics, and emotional appeals can only take you so far once in a while.

Like they say, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time!

Specially now that people have begun ‘speaking up’.

And what they say is being reflected at the hustings…