With less than two weeks before the Lok Sabha elections kick off, the big political question in Gujarat revolves around whether the 2019 election will resemble the 2014 one – when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won all 26 Lok Sabha seats from the state – or 2017 assembly polls – when the BJP struggled and the Congress made a strong comeback.
It is this question that frames all conversations.
The BJP hopes it can replicate the first. The Congress hopes that it can build on its performance in the subsequent election.
But the sense from the ground is that the 2019 elections may not be either. The euphoria and excitement for the BJP, visible in 2014, is missing. But so is the public hostility that was visible in 2017. It is in this landscape that both parties are entering the battle. And this battle revolves around a common set of issues – the impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; the candidature of BJP president Amit Shah from Gandhinagar; the meaning of the 2017 verdict where the BJP scraped through; and the Patidar and farm factors.
“The 2014 hawa [wave] is not present…the question is whether the Congress has the organisational capacity to leverage this resentment against the BJP,” said Hari Desai, a political analyst and commentator.
The BJP game plan