After completion of polling in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday, the focus is now on the Gujarat elections. The whole country is waiting to see if the BJP is able to retain its position of 22 years in Gujarat. BJP’s victory in these assembly elections is of great significance especially to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as it will prove if the common man has actually taken the GST and demonetisation in the right spirit. On the other hand, Congress is working with all its might and main to return to power in Gujarat and waiting to exterminate BJP which has held the reins in Gujarat since 1995.
The Congress is banking on ‘Poda’ — P (Patidar), O (OBC), D (Dalit), and A (Adivasi). It is a different matter that the Congress does not have any strong leader from these communities. However, Congress is working on a strategy to defeat the BJP by roping in a face to lead these communities from outside the state.
In the beginning of this year, Congress had decided to take lessons from Uttar Pradesh elections that it would make an effort to ensure that the communal polarisation is completely out of the game and their votes are not affected due to it in the Gujarat assembly elections. Instead, this is the reason why Rahul Gandhi is working on the lines of “Soft Hindutva” to garner more votes.
This time Rahul has been seen in a completely different ‘avatar’ as compared to how he was perceived in his previous visits that he had made to Gujarat. Every time Rahul Gandhi came to Gujarat for publicity, he was seen visiting temples. He was also seen in the state around Navratri.
This time Congress is working at two levels. On the top level, Rahul Gandhi is leading through ‘soft-Hindutva’ and on the lower level, the Congress is internally trying to use casteism as a strong weapon by using the Patidar, OBC, Dalit and Adivasi communities to draw more and more votes for their party.
Speaking of the caste equation, the Muslim and Yadav communities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have always remained a point of discussion. Though, if we have to talk about Gujarat, in the 1985 Rajya Sabha elections, the current state Congress president Bharat Solanki’s father, Madhavsinh Solanki, haf used the KHAM strategy (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslims) and the Congress secured 149 seats. Now, it is yet to be see if PODA will be as successful as KHAM was. It is not clear yet if Patidar Anamat Andolan leader Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, and the Adivasi leader Chhotu Wasava can turn the tide in COngress’ favour or not.