Gujarat Elections 2017 Results: The Congress was not able to defeat the incumbent BJP in Gujarat but it has certainly managed to bring down the ruling party seats to double digits in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. According to the Indian Express senior CPI leader, D Raja said ““The BJP’s loss (of seats) in Gujarat is a victory for Rahul.” Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said: “Congress has returned a morale-boosting performance in Gujarat under Mr Rahul Gandhi. The battle is now joined for five states in 2018.” Ashok Gehlot, AICC general secretary in charge of Gujarat, said: “Rahul Gandhi’s principle and the issue-based campaign has altered the perception of people about the Congress.” The Congress President Rahul Gandhi conceded defeat in the elections and accepted the verdict. He tweeted “The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me. My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage.”
The Indian Express reported that it spoke to several opposition leaders and the larger message which comes out of Gujarat election results is that if BJP’s electoral performance has taken a dip then there is hope in other states, especially for the next round in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. In a similar line of thought, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “It is a temporary and face-saving win, but it shows a moral defeat for BJP. Gujarat voted against atrocities, anxiety and injustice caused to the common people. Gujarat belled the cat for 2019.”
Now, these are positive takeaways for Congress but there is also a big message for the grand old party and other opposition parties. The opposition parties have criticised BJP on issues of demonetisation, GST, job losses and agrarian distress but they have not been able to provide an alternative vision to the people of Gujarat. This resulted in voters from embracing the Congress fully. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury told The Indian Express, “Merely exposing and criticising the BJP’s wrong policies and hardships will not cement the confidence of the people into voting against them unless it is backed by an alternate policy direction. What is required is an alternate policy trajectory upon which the widest possible unity of the Opposition forces must be built… that is the message.”
DMK’s Tiruchi Siva sounded like Yechury when he said, “having committed so many unacceptable things like demonetisation and all… and also its monolithic policies… the counter, the need of the hour is for all Opposition parties to come together… if all Opposition parties come together and wage a united fight, this government can be defeated. We have to come together”.