Modi’s mass appeal intact in Gujarat

Our Special Story in the current issue of Tehelka is on the BJP’s stupendous victory in the Gujarat Assembly election. Though it was a foregone conclusion, the ease and margins with which it won proves beyond doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mass appeal remains not only intact but has further grown.

When Modi tweeted, “Thank you Gujarat” and went on to add, “I am overcome with a lot of emotions seeing the phenomenal election results. People blessed the politics of development and at the same time expressed a desire that they want this momentum to continue at a greater pace. I bow to Gujarat’s Jan Shakti,” it was clear that the BJP will surely hard-sell the time-tested Gujarat growth model across the country in its bid to retain power at the Centre in 2024. Its immediate echo may be heard in the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in the year 2023 in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

The other major gainer is Aam Aadmi Party which with even having zero Lok Sabha MPs, is set to get the status of a national party. There is an irony in the plot because it chose to become a national party courtesy Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah from where it got 12.9 percent votes. As per rules, a political party requires six percent vote share in four states to get the stature of a national party. AAP is in power in Punjab and Delhi and has two seats in Goa and five in Gujarat. This could be a boost in the party’s expansion plans.

The Aam Aadmi Party also dethroned the BJP from power in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) after three terms lasting 15 years and took control of the civic body for the first time in the national capital. AAP won 134 of 250 wards, while the BJP got 104, and the Congress came a distant third with just nine.

The Congress too has something to cheer about.  At a time when everything seemed lost for the win starved Congress, the party after almost four years, 18 straight losses, exodus of many leaders, has won in Himachal Pradesh. For all the noise it generated, AAP could not even open its account. All the 67 candidates it had fielded, including former Lok Sabha member Rajan Sushant, lost their security deposits as not even one could secure a minimum one-sixth (16.7%) of the total valid votes polled.

Meanwhile in line with consistent exposure by Tehelka Special Investigation Team, the Cover Story in this issue of Tehelka “Hookah, Tobacco and Minors” exposes how despite the ban, minors find easy access to tobacco at hookah bars which are mushrooming in metros and tier II cities across India.