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All is fair in love and war!

   By Vijay Darda | 12-12-2022

The thinking of BJP strategists is like a chess move, whichever the election may be, the party gathers with full force

Vijay Darda

Though loyal supporters of the BJP were praying for a big victory, hardly anyone would have expected this bumper victory in Gujarat! Political veterans had assumed that the BJP would win around 120 seats. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah certainly expected a huge victory because the BJP under their leadership had designed such a strategy!

Visionary thinking and infallible strategy matter a lot like chess moves in politics. It was clear that being in power for more than two-and-a-half decades, the party may have to face anti-incumbency. In September last year, when Vijay Rupani was removed from the post of chief minister, it became clear that the BJP is in no mood to take any risk in the 2022 Assembly elections. The Patidar community enjoys considerable clout in Gujarat and it would have been difficult to upset them politically, so Bhupendrabhai Patel was made the chief minister. Hardik Patel, the Patel face of the Congress, also joined the BJP in June this year. Meanwhile, every possible effort was made to woo the tribals and Dalits. It is difficult to say how many of these people joined the BJP and how many remained with the Congress or walked over to the Aam Aadmi Party. But the BJP benefitted from this strategy for sure. Apart from this, there were hasty announcements of many projects. It was all part of the strategy and election statecraft. Apart from this, BJP also played other cards well to attract voters. Just as they say, all is fair in love and war!

To translate the strategy into electoral results, the BJP did not give tickets to five ministers and 38 sitting members of the previous Assembly. It reposed more trust in new faces. All influential leaders, be it chief ministers, ministers, MPs, national leaders of the party or veterans from other states, were assigned to address the election meetings! The special trait of the BJP is that it does not consider any election small and does not take it lightly. Its leaders don’t even see what their stature is and what is the level of election. They don’t waste time thinking about where to go or where not to. They complete the assigned task with dedication. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself enters the field and does a 50-km roadshow! As a result of this, with 99 seats, the BJP won a supermajority of 156 seats, laying to rest the apprehension of anti-incumbency. Congress’ Madhavsinh Solanki’s record of 149 was broken too.

As far as the Aam Aadmi Party is concerned, even though it won just 5 seats, it is a remarkable victory. It has received 13 per cent votes and the biggest thing is that this victory earned it the status of a national party. Leaving Delhi and entering Modiji’s stronghold is no child’s play. Arvind Kejriwal has given the message of his foresight by tasting success first in Delhi, then in Punjab and now in Gujarat. Kejriwal knew that it was more important for him to reach Gujarat than Himachal. Today, AAP is being discussed all over Gujarat. Even after all the allegations of corruption and the attack on the deputy chief minister, he wrested power in the MCD and that’s why this feat is remarkable.

On the contrary, Congress missed a good opportunity. This party had 77 MLAs in the previous Gujarat Assembly. It has now been reduced to just 17 seats in this election. The biggest reason for this was the infighting within Congress. The leaders kept fighting with each other. They kept dealing with each other. It was a free-for-all situation. From people’s point of view, how can they trust Congress which could not establish itself even as a strong opposition? In fact, Congress took the Gujarat elections very lightly. Congress lost whichever seat Rahul Gandhi went to campaign for!

As far as the victory of Congress in Himachal is concerned, Congress did not have any strong leadership there. State Congress president Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh, their son Vikramaditya Singh, besides Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and Mukesh Agnihotri were involved in the tussle for the chief minister’s post even before the elections. Despite this, if Congress wins, it is a message from the voters that they have not lost faith in it yet. Will Congress leaders remember that in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress got 19.5 per cent of the votes? Congress’ victory in Himachal is really a matter of concern for the BJP. BJP’s national president J P Nadda could not save his state. The BJP lost all the five seats in Union minister Anurag Thakur’s area. The BJP definitely suffered a loss due to infighting. The party did not give a ticket to Anurag Thakur’s father Prem Kumar Dhumal. If we look at the politically important by-election in Uttar Pradesh, BJP suffered a setback in Khatauli but got success for the first time in Rampur, a Muslim-majority area.

The characteristic of the BJP is that it analyses both victory and defeat and then makes plans. The Assembly elections are due in 2023 in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura. The Lok Sabha elections will be held in 2024. Even if all the political parties unite (which is an impossible task), it will hardly have any effect on the BJP’s prospects because the BJP has already made a strategy as to how to move forward on the path of victory! But there is no sign of a strong opposition which is most important for democracy! This is not a good situation!

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