In 2017, the Congress, out of power for 22 long years, may well have its best shot at supplanting the BJP from power. A five-point swing in the favor of the Congress could help the party catch up with the BJP, and perhaps even pull ahead of the State’s ruling party.
The Congress’ vote share, too, has been consistent: it clocked a high of 39.28 per cent in 2002, in the elections that were held about ten months after the communal riots. In 2012, it secured 38.93 per cent. Its base has held steady, and this year’s poll is perhaps the party’s best chance at breaking the BJP’s hold over Gujarat.A pre-election survey conducted says that only a six-percentage-point lead over the Congress, down from over 30 points in August. The Congress party’s slogans — ‘Congress aaveche’ (the Congress is coming) and ‘Vikasgandothayoche’ (development gone crazy) — seem to have resonated with voters.
The Patidar AnamatAndolan Samiti’s agitation for reservation in jobs and education since 2015, has struck a deal with the Congress. OBC leader Alpesh Thakore, who had been spearheading the OSS — the grouping claimed to espouse the demands of the OBCs, the SCs and STs — has joined the Congress. The party has also made tangible overtures to Dalit leaders who has, chosen to stand as an independent candidate with the party’s backing.
The Congress’ campaign appears to have peaked far too early: while they have earned quite a few points with his campaigns online and on the ground, the Congress, in attempting to set the tone for the election early, may not be able to match oppositions rhetoric.
CONGRESS AND GUJRAT
Now that the Gujarat election dates are drawing closer, campaigning has reached a feverish pitch and is set to get more intense, coarser — balanced on both optics and strategy. Every single move, from now, will matter, and even a small step could go a long way in winning the loyalty of a voter group. Gujarat will be the first major Congress-BJP battle and also the first since 2014 when BJP is not the challenger but the incumbent. And that ordinary citizens are referring to this election as a “50-50” affair indicates it is a tight contest.
Congress leaders have addressed the community members at the Dalit Shakti Kendra in Sanand near Ahmedabad and made a strong political statement by accepting the country’s largest national flag that the Dalits had presented in August this year, asking him to declare at least one village in the state untouchability-free.
THE NATIONAL IMPRINT
Politicians rarely take moves without analyzing the wider consequences of their choices and actions. Even at its worst, the Congress is no stranger to this fact. Theyknows that in this era of fast moving news and views, no action has a political boundary or memory. The news piece was widely covered, and this was soon followed by the party members picture of hugging and consoling a contractual teacher as she lamented about government policies. They took a short time to go viral. A good political strategist would know pictures evoke emotions and tell a larger story. Still there words are bound to reach a larger audience outside the state.