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PM Modi Becomes Exception To Win 3 Straight Terms In Gujarat

In India, two out of every three governments are overthrown, whereas in America, two out of every three administrations are elected, according to a well-known analyst named Ruchir Sharma.

There seems to be an exception in Narendra Modi. Before relocating to Delhi in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader dominated his native state of Gujarat for more than 12 years and won three consecutive assembly elections. Since then, he has guided his party to two decisive victories to rule India.

Prime Minister Modi is still leading the campaign for the Gujarat state legislature despite this. The BJP won 156 of the 182 seats and more than half of the popular vote in Thursday’s historic victory, opening the door for a seventh term in the state. It also demonstrated that Mr. Modi is, as many analysts have stated, “synonymous with Gujarat.”

As is his style, Mr. Modi turned the Gujarat election into a referendum on himself. He conducted miles-long road shows and delivered speeches at more than 30 campaign events in an effort to win over voters and garner widespread media attention. On the campaign trail, he spoke to Gujarati asmita, or pride, and begged the electorate to “trust” him and the BJP administration. According to Amit Dholakia, a political science professor at Gujarat’s Maharaja Sayajirao University, “you don’t anticipate the prime minister to devote so much time and energy in a state election.”

It’s possible that Mr. Modi was given more work than normal. Voters continue to be attracted to his fervent Hindu nationalism and promises of economic prosperity. Gujarat had religious riots not long after he first came to office in 2002, yet it seems that this did not hurt his popularity. Gujarat is the fourth-largest economy in India, and it leads the country in investment and per capita income.

However, just like elsewhere in India, there are fewer employment available and costs are going higher. When it comes to health metrics like baby and maternal death rates, Gujarat has lagged behind less wealthy states. In the local administration, Mr. Modi’s successors have not had the same level of popularity with the public. In the 2017 state election, the party narrowly prevailed despite resistance from supporters who belonged to a powerful landowner community and a then-resurgent opposition Congress.

Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of the news and current affairs website ThePrint, claims that “but moment Mr. Modi is on the ticket, the screenplay changes.

Commentators claim that Mr. Modi is aware that a loss for the BJP in Gujarat will harm not only his party but also his personal reputation. The entrance of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by Arvind Kejriwal, could be one factor in why he spent so much time and effort campaigning in the state this time. Since 2015, the AAP has been in power in the metropolitan state of Delhi, and earlier this year it gained the important state of Punjab. It took over the cash-rich municipality of the nation’s capital, Delhi, on Wednesday from the BJP, which had ruled it for 15 years.

A fiery politician who enjoys challenging Mr. Modi, Mr. Kejriwal relocated to Varanasi to run against the BJP chief in the 2014 national elections. (He was defeated.) His party only won five seats in Gujarat at the start, but it gained close to 13% of the popular vote, mostly at the expense of the main opposition Congress party. According to Prof. Dholakia, “It has created a gap among the opposition. It needs to create a grassroots network and trustworthy leaders.

The AAP was found to be gaining ground as a national alternative to the BJP, taking over the opposition space that Congress had previously enjoyed, according to a survey conducted earlier this year in more than 200 cities and towns by YouGov, a global market research firm, and Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR). According to Rahul Verma, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, “They’ve got a foot in the door. It doesn’t mean that they are going to win the next election, but they become political rivals in the state.”

But the BJP under Mr. Modi is still difficult to defeat. His party’s Hindutva philosophy, a solid organisational structure, plenty of resources, a track record of government, a broad social coalition, and a generally supportive media all add to his undeniable appeal as a vote-getter.

The Congress party’s dismal performance in Gujarat, according to observers, shows that people no longer find it enticing. This helps Mr. Modi in no small way. Only a rare glimmer of hope is offered by the party’s narrow victory over the BJP in the tiny mountain state of Himachal Pradesh, where voters are known for ousting incumbents. But according to political analyst Asim Ali, the vote in Himachal Pradesh also “exemplified the limits of Mr. Modi’s formidable capacity to push BJP through in state elections.”

The BJP’s decisive victory in Gujarat demonstrates that the rainbow coalition it has put together of higher, lower, and middle-ranking castes, often known as the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), continues to bear fruit. About half of Gujarat’s more than 60 million residents are OBCs, who currently make up the majority of the party’s supporters.

The BJP’s greatest asset continues to be Mr. Modi’s personality and ability to connect with voters. Take Mr. Modi out of the picture, and the BJP appears fragile, says Prof. Dholakia, adding that the party’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. “The other state leaders are not popular, and the dependence on Mr. Modi is also an acknowledgement of the inadequacy of the local leadership.”

Only the Communist Party of India (Marxist) ruled a state (West Bengal) for a longer period of time, a record 34 years, than the BJP will now dominate Gujarat without a break for 29 years. And Mr. Modi, 72, nevertheless stands out in politics by bucking anti-incumbency sentiment both inside and outside of his home state.

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