If the Congress hoped that Gujarat would be the first jewel in Rahul Gandhi’s new crown as its president, that dream is over. Or so the exit polls emphatically say. Almost all of them project the BJP’s re-election. Yes, they predict a marginally reduced majority but other than that, Gujarat remains a secure bastion for the BJP as it clocks a sixth consecutive win.
If the Congress was planning this as a comeback, they forgot this is Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, and that was never to be.
And perhaps this was always the story of Gujarat. Rana Ayyub, writing here, was correct in saying that the chance of Gujarat losing its saffron hue in this election, or even in 2022, is zero as long as Narendra Modi is on the scene. She did not need an exit poll because she knows that Modi is Gujarat for Gujaratis and no amount of anti-incumbency is going to topple the BJP. Now the exit polls have come to the same conclusion.
The fact is that despite GST, demonetization and the Patidar agitation, a Congress victory in Gujarat was always a bit of the stretch. The best the Congress could hope for was crossing the 80-mark in the 182-seat assembly; that and the BJP falling to a 100 seats or less would have been a major moral victory and taken some of the jauntiness out of the BJP’s step. As it stands, the BJP has done no better or worse than it has done in the last few elections (excluding the 2014 general election where it swept the state).