Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
Firstly, let's congratulate the BJP. Winning for a record sixth time in Gujarat is a crowning glory for both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amil Shah. What more, it wrested Himachal Pradesh from the Congress. Thus, the BJP now rules 19 states in the country.
There is no gainsaying the fact how important a victory is in democratic politics. In fact, Modi has demonstrated an uncanny ability to win these elections, which will definitely have a significant bearing on the outcome of the 2019 general elections.
At the same time, let it also be said that he had done things that he had never done before and should never have done this time. He had quite early realised that the tide was turning against him and that the contest would be stiff. So, he and Amit Shah staked their everything and strained their every nerve. Rahul Gandhi too strove no less. He roped in Hardik Patel. It is possible that with the Patels moving towards the Congress, there might have been a reverse polarisation of non-Patel castes and that may have gone on to help the BJP.
This reverse polarisation is not new and has happened elsewhere too. We have our own experiences in Andhra Pradesh and Telagnana. Prior to 1994 elections, Kapu patriarch Mudragada Padmanabham launched powerful agitations and had managed to extract some concessions from the then Government. But, he was defeated at the hustings. Till then, he was invincible. This was because some local communities have turned against him. Similarly, Manda Krishna Madiga too forayed into politics with his community solidly behind him. But, he was humbled at the hustings.
Several elections have proved that if a hormonious caste equilibrium can be maintained, victory is assured. These reflect the growing caste consciousness in the society. Hence, the governments of the day are allocating lands to caste umbrella organisations and funds to construct the buildings. AP and Telangana are in the forefront in this endeavour. Karnataka Congress Government too is following suit. Time was when the Government used to desist doing this openly. But, now times are a changing. The BJP, which had successfully mobilised non-Yadav castes and won in UP, has used the same formula by mobilising non-Patels in Gujarat.
In addition, Modi's Garvi Gujarat and Gujarat Asmita campaigns too had worked magic on the voters. Modi had repeatedly said he was the son of Gujarat to capitalise on the sentiment. It is significant that he had won despite the GST blues and note ban blushes. But, let it also be clarified that a victory in Gujarat and Himachal does not mean that the BJP will cruise through comfortably in 2019. In fact, Gujarat was a hard fought battle and the Congress had significantly improved its position. It is important that the Modi government critically analyses the developments of the last year-and-a-half. Otherwise, the going could get tougher.
This twin victory had managed to silence his political rivals within and outside the party. Modi needs to win the hearts to remain in power. Victory in the states is no guarantee that the party would win at the Centre. This has happened to the Congress. Hence, it is important that there is introspection in Modi Government and the governance becomes truly people-friendly.