1990 was the last election where Congress won but after that since 1995 to 2017 Gujarat became the Bastion of BJP. Next year in 2022 Gujarat will go to polls as the fourteenth assembly will take place. As BJP will look to continue its dominance in the state, the Congress will be looking to come back at power after 27 years.
Winning Gujarat will be important for the Congress to win 2024 Lok Sabha. In 2017 Congress gave a remarkably close fight to BJP however, they were unable to dethrone BJP. It will not be easy for the Congress to dethrone a party whose image had been created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that too in his home state. Congress will need something more than anti-incumbency in order to conquer Gujarat.
What are the issues that Congress needs to counter to Win Gujarat?
Accomplishments of BJP
Gujarat is one of the most developed state in India. It has a significant amount of industrialization and agricultural sectors. Under the BJP rule Gujarat has flourished as an essential import export hub in India. Under Modis tenure from 2002 to 2012 Gujarat underwent a major economic reform. In 2015 Gujarat saw the lowest rate of unemployment with a rate 1.2% labour force being unemployed.
During the last 5 years of BJP rule in Gujarat from 2017 i.e., after the last election, Gujarat’s GDP rate was 5th best among all the Indian states. 45% of its GDP comes from industries while only 19% comes from agriculture. Gujarat also saw reduction in its controversies of riots, chaos since 2002.
Congress can counter the ruling BJP government in Gujarat on issues of human development index, sex ratio, infant mortality. Gujarat has a poor health care system for children, poverty is also pretty much there as it is among the top 10 states in terms of people living under BPL.
The biggest issue Congress can fire on the ruling party would be Crime rate. Gujarat ranks 8th in crime rates among all the states.
Why may Congress find difficult to win Gujarat?
Recently in Gujarat both panchayat and municipal elections were held. Congress has dominated the rural Gujarat while in urban areas, BJP has had a lead over Congress. However, the election result saw complete decimation of Congress in both rural and urban areas. 31 district panchayats went on for polls in March 2021, and BJP won all the 31 district panchayats. Not only this, BJP won 196 out of 231 taluka panchayats and 74 out of 81 municipalities. In total BJP won 729 seats so far out of 980. Congress could win 1,805 seats, while the new entrants Aam Aadmi Paty (AAP) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) won 42 and 17 seats, respectively.
In Municipal Elections too, Gujarat saw the invincibility of the BJP in the state. BJP bagged 483 seats out of 576 municipal seats which is equivalent to a landslide victory. While on the other hand Congress won only 44 seats. AAP also got 27 seats in Surat where Congress didn't open their account. These outcomes might create a sense of alarm for Congress in Gujarat which heads for polls in in 2nd half of 2022.
Results of Last Assembly election (2017)
In 2017 Congress saw its best performance since 1990 when they came to power for the last time. Congress came very close to defeating BJP in 2017 but couldn't cross the line. BJP was restricted to 99 seats out of 182, the least number of seats since 1995.
On the other hand, Congress got 78 seats to establish itself as a strong and responsible opposition party. In terms of vote share, BJP got almost 50 % votes share while Congress got 41%. Vijay Rupani was sworn in as the Chief Minister.
Looking at the current state of Gujarat Congress, the party may find it difficult to unseat BJP even in next assembly election. The lack of credible face in state has hurt the party. The recently conducted panchayat and municipal elections clearly showed that Congress lacked the strength in state and a total revamp was needed if it is hoping to come to power in state.