The mainstream media has highlighted BJP’s majestic victory in Gujarat assembly elections. They did it by analysing routine matrix. But they have omitted a deep-pervading matrix of labharthi politics.
The analysts have discussed various factors. Like, the homecoming of Patidars, entry of AAP in Gujarat eating up Congress votes. Even the rejection of freebie politics. They have attributed these factors for record-breaking 156 seats of the 182 seats in Gujarat assembly for BJP.
But most of the analysts have missed BJP’s elevated performance in rural constituencies. For the first time, BJP has almost doubled its tally in this election. It has won 75 rural seats out of 98 in the Gujarat assembly compared to winning 40 in the previous election.
How did this happen?
Even the anti Modi brigade knows the answer. But, they would not like to discuss it openly. They would not like to give credit to the welfare politics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This politics has given rise to a new demographic, the labharthi varg.
He has implemented these welfare schemes so impeccably that this varg votes for the BJP enmasse ensuring re-election. This new demography is trampling the politics of religious and caste politics.
The welfare schemes that benefit this varg are PM Awas Yojana, PM Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Accounts, PM Kisan Nidhi Yojana, Mudra Loans, PM Jeevan Suraksha Yojana, besides the free ration for people under the pandemic relief scheme.
The BJP adopted this strategy of targeting this varg from the last Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2017. The BJP election machine later used the same in Lok Sabha elections in 2019. In the last UP assembly elections, some analysts had attributed BJP’s victory to the PM Ujjwala Yojana, besides other factors.
This is the marked change in the approach to welfare. Over the years India was legislating various basic needs as a right to be given to people through various schemes, like the law guaranteeing 100 days of employment, and the law making access to education as right, among others.
But Modi’s welfare politics has made the new demographic to change from “right holders” to “beneficiaries”. This has a huge electoral connect.
In Gujarat context
In the context of Gujarat, the BJP promised to develop a Saurashtra Express Highway grid to provide connectivity with important economic hubs and national highways. It also spent Rs 1 lakh crore under the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana 2.0 for the all-around socio-economic development of tribals.
This holistic development model has led to BJP reaping electoral gains in the state.
For decades, Gujarat reeled under drought-like situations. It forced women to walk several miles to fetch a pot of water on their heads. But the successful raising of the Sardar Sarovar dam resulted in the supply of water to the dry parts of Gujarat under SAUNI programme. This had led people to pin hopes on BJP.
People of Gujarat also trust the BJP in maintaining law and order. Earlier, during Congress rule, the state was marred by frequent communal riots for decades.
To put in a nutshell, the quality of life of Gujarat people has improved. It happened over the years without the state having to dole out freebies.
So, it should not be a surprise that AAP has failed to woo people of Gujarat by dangling freebie carrots.