A question that is echoing in the poll-bound state making the political parties restless as the D-day is nearing is “Congress aave chhe? (Is the Congress coming back?)”. Well, several experts and analysts are of different opinion whether Congress will be able to come back in Gujarat or not, but one thing is for sure that everyone is agreeing with is, Congres is giving a tough fight to the BJP and whatever the results may be, will be with a very close margin.
As per the latest survey conducted by the ABP-CSDS, the tides are in the favour of Congress for a change now. According to the survey, Congress has managed to gain the support of 14 percent more voters. The BJP as for now had 43 percent of vote share in Gujarat and as per what the recent survey predicts is that even Congress has reached the same numbers and has 43 percent of vote share. A few months back, the BJP was expected to lead the way with a vote share of 59 percent and it was projected that the party might win 144-152 of the total 182 seats in Gujarat.
But the latest surveys are saying that it will be a major luck if the BJP manages to get anything more than the ha;f way mark.
Looking at the rigorous campaigning that the Congress is engaged in from past three-four months, it has definitely helped the party’s foothold strong in the state. According to the political experts the main reasons that have helped the party make a come back in Gujarat are:
- Erasing the anti-Hindutva image of Congress
- Ban on the entry of outsiders in the electoral arena
- Fighting the election the conventional way
- Playing the counter-attack game tactfully.
From the very beginning of the election campaigning in Gujarat, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is personally leading the campaigns, was seen visiting the temples and wearing a tilak on his forehead in all this addresses and rallies. This was a deliberate move taken by the party to mend the anti-Hindutva image of Congress due to which, it is believed that the party also had lost the 2014 General elections. Ahead of the campaigning, during a high-level meeting attended by Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat Congress in charge Ashok Gehlot, it was decided that the BJP would not be allowed the luxury of running away with the Hindutva narrative.
During the meeting, it was finalized that Rahul will be projected as a Hindu devotee and would be visiting temples and offering prayers. It was also decided that the ‘R’ and ‘G’ words, the ‘riots’ and ‘Godhara’ words will not be mentioned during the campaigning. The strategists and top leaders also decided that the Muslims will participate but without drawing attention to their identity. Following the strategy planned to clean the anti-Hindutva image of the Congress, the party managed to form alliances with different castes and communities, being successful to a limit in eroding the traditional vote bank of BJP.
This tactful move of the party proved beneficial for the Congress, as the surveys suggest that the party has managed to make deep inroads into the BJP vote banks of tribals, traders and Patidars.
Another major agenda to fight back BJP in campaigning was to not let Prime Minister Narendra Modi get away with his soaring rhetoric and claims. Each and every statement made by Narendra Modi is being closely monitored and scrutinised by the Congress and the party is making sure that his every comment is met with a befitting reply from Congress. During the process, the party also realized that Rahul Gandhi was not exactly the person who could strongly counter attack Modi, so it was decided that Gandhi will attack Modi only on social media and the Patidar agitation spearhead, Hardik Patel, who is a fiery orator, will attack the Prime Minister through his rallies and addresses.
The political experts said that “while Gandhi attacks the BJP and its policies, Hardik follows Modi on the ground. In his speeches, he challenges the prime minister’s statements, denounces claims of development and chides Gujaratis for believing everything he tells them.”
Another major factor that will decide the fate of Congress in Gujarat is the changes that the party has made in its campaigning policies. Unlike before the Congress instead of letting its other leaders address election rallies, it has asked them to go door to door, mobilise workers and manage booths on polling day. The task of holding rallies have been left on the shoulders of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor, Jignesh Mewani and Rahul Gandhi.
The only fear or the one sector that the Congress should be worried about is that its workers are not as dedicated as the BJP cadres. The experts have said that “After a few hours of polling, they leave the booths and go home. Also, the BJP has the advantage of last-mile connectivity with voters because of its numerical strength and technological edge.”
However, the Congress is still hoping and trying to get its workers together on the D-day along with the effective combination of dedicated supporters of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mewani, ensures that the Congress gets nothing less than victory in the Gujarat assembly polls, scheduled to be held in two phases on 9 Dec and 14 Dec.
The results of the Gujarat assembly polls along with the results of Himachal Pradesh assembly elections will be announced on 18 Dec.