The ABP-CSDS surely gives an expect the unexpected moment to the BJP. As per the survey, the saffron party seems to be losing its sheen in its bastion. As per the survey, BJP will secure an approximate of 91-99 number of seats in Gujarat while the Congress will closely follow with an estimated 78-86 seats in the upcoming polls. The survey reflects that the Rahul Gandhi-Hardik Patel duo has managed to mobilise the masses with their rallies. If the actual results coincide with the poll survey, it will be the first time in 22 years for BJP, when the party fails to secure a clear mandate in the state. Going by the poll survey, Patidar quota spearhead Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani and of course, to-be Congress President Rahul Gandhi, together, have been successful in snatching the vote share of the ruling BJP. Gujarat assembly elections 2017 is of utmost importance as Gujarat wields a high influence on national politics partially because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah and also because of the fact that the so-called Gujarat model of development has been an important part of the BJP’s campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and all the state assembly elections since then. This election battle will be crucial as BJP isn’t just facing Congress this time but a whole new lot of popular young leaders. The youth leaders like Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani have taken centre stage and are crusading a direct battle with the incumbent state government.
According to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) data for 2015-16, less than 20 per cent of graduate engineers in Gujarat got jobs. In this background, accentuated by the absence of Narendra Modi, emerged Hardik Patel and projected himself as a Patidar leader in Gujarat holding huge rallies across the state. Hardik Patel demanded reservation for Patidars under Other Backward Castes (OBCs). The 23-year-old, convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, Hardik Patel, after days of speculation cracked a deal with Congress where the grand old party assured to provide reservations without tampering with the 50 percent limit as per Indian law, while he urged the people of Gujarat to vote for the Congress. It must be noted that Hardik Patel denied any political ambitions when asked whether he will be joining or supporting the Congress party.
Winning Gujarat, seen as the saffron party’s bastion, is crucial for the BJP as it’s a matter of their prestige while for Congress, which faces an existential crisis, Gujarat provides hope for survival. Gujarat elections will be a litmus test for Rahul Gandhi, who is all set to become the President of the grand old party. If Rahul manages to navigate Congress to victory or even limit BJP to a lesser-than-majority number, he may well become the face against Prime Minister Modi in 2019 general elections. If otherwise, Rahul, whose performance is already under scanner, may face a backlash from even within his party.
The rallies of Hardik Patel have attracted lakhs of youths in Gujarat but will they transform into votes for Congress? The ABP-CSDS survey gives a hint but the final answer will come with the results of the assembly elections polls in the state which are scheduled to be held in two phases, December 9 and 14.