Former Amnesty India head Aakar Patel tried to insinuate how Gujarat, which has essentially been a two-party state, has not voted Congress to power since past three decades.
gujarat is a two-party state but has been a one party State for three decades. congress hasn’t won an election — whether lok sabha or vidhan sabha — there since the tearing down of babri masjid (came third in 1990)— Aakar Patel (@Aakar__Patel) June 1, 2022
He tweeted that it came third in 1990 and how it has not won any major elections in the state since the demolition of disputed structure at Ram Janmabhoomi.
First things first, it was Congress government in Gujarat when the disputed structure at Ayodhya was demolished on 6th December, 1992. And while BJP’s Keshubhai Patel came to power in March 1995, Shankersinh Vaghela, former BJP leader and now Congress leader, indulged in first of the ‘resort politics’ to topple Keshubhai government. For almost two years from October 1996 to March 1998, Vaghela, through his party Rashtriya Janata Party, formed government in Gujarat with external support of Congress. In fact, he managed to pull off the Khajuraho resort politics, one of the first instances of ‘kidnapping’ supporting MLAs to other states and indulge in ‘negotiations’, with help of Congress leader and the then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh.
Patel tries to then insinuate that it was the Ram Janmabhoomi movement that established the BJP rule in Gujarat so, so, so strongly that since 1998 Gujarat has only seen the BJP in power. An entire generation has grown up in Gujarat in a non-Congress ruled state. But the generation before it very clearly remembers the divisive politics pioneered by Congress and the appeasement policies which made life of an average Gujarati, irrespective of their faith, difficult.
Why Gujaratis have not elected Congress back to power since 1998
Let me make this clear; no matter which government is in power in Gujarat, the state will not only survive but flourish. It is the people of Gujarat who have contributed to the prosperity of the state, not despite the adversities, but even because of it. It is the survival instincts that have kicked in decades ago due to various natural and political upheavals in the state.
During Congress rule in Gujarat, people often would want to move to Mumbai for better employment prospects and ‘better life’. Fortunes changed in mid-90s. An average working middle class person saw that the taxes they were paying were being used to better their lives. Some were visible, like the roads, the quality of electricity, others were invisible, but apparent, like lack of communal riots, strikes. You see, today when people on Twitter complain about long powercuts, people from Ahmedabad would gloat about how they don’t remember last time they witnessed unplanned outage. Oh, and let me also remind everyone about the robust solar power policy in Gujarat, a step through which the glorious state is showing the way for non-renewable source of energy for the country.
As Gujaratis we are very proud of our heritage. We are proud of the resilience. That every time Mahmood Ghazni invaded and looted Somnath, the temple was constructed right back up. We are proud that the freedom movement had its roots here, so did the Emergency. That a common man from Gujarat not only led India to freedom, a common man from Gujarat also toppled the central government leading to an extremely dynamic political system in India.
The BJP is in power in Gujarat not because “Gujaratis are communal” but because Gujarat witnessed the history where the current Opposition flared violence for ‘minority appeasement’ in the 80s.The first half of the 1980s saw some of the worst inter-caste riots in Gujarat, which quickly escalated to communal riots. Former Gujarat Congress President Bharatsinh Solanki’s father, Madhavsinh Solanki presided over these riots. In fact, he was the one who propagated the divisive caste-based politics in Gujarat – the KHAM theory. KHAM stands for – Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi and Muslim, the vote-bank for Congress.
Do we still need a reason why Gujaratis kicked out Congress?
There was rise of crime, including bootlegging and don-wars. Don Latif flourished his bootlegging business, and getting rid of anti-social elements like Latif was the plank BJP used in 1995 which brought them to power.
What about 2002? Well, isn’t the fact that not a single incident of communal violence has broken in the state since February 2002 a testimonial to the fact that peace has by and large prevailed in the state? Congress President Sonia Gandhi once referred to the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi as ‘maut ka saudagar’, while forgetting the fact that it was indeed Congress ruled neighbouring states who refused to help Gujarat which need all the held it could get to bring violence under control.
Ashok Gehlot of Congress was the chief minister of Rajasthan. Digvijaya Singh of Congress, who tries to play divisive caste politics, was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. Vilasrao Deshmukh of Congress was the chief minister of Maharashtra was the only one who sent bare minimum personnel to help.
Other than this, the common Gujarati will also never forget how the UPA government at Centre, in its absolute hate for Narendra Modi kept Gujarat parched by sitting on the Sardar Sarovar dam project. Congress government in the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra felt they were at ‘disadvantage’, not realising that the same Narmada water will bring irrigation and drinking water even to their states along with providing electricity.
Finally, in June 2014, a month after Prime Minister Modi swore in, the final approval came which breathed a new life in the project. At last in June 2017, the project whose foundation was laid in 1961 by then Prime Minister Nehru, was inaugurated by now Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The hate for Gujarat is so deep rooted in the minds of Congress leaders that in 2013, the power ministry in UPA government canceled out felicitation ceremony when they saw 3 out of 4 discoms were from Gujarat.
A generation of first time voters have never seen a non-BJP government in the state. But, they have also seen the development which Congress mocks at every given opportunity. They can read through the lies because they no longer rely on propagandists masquerading as journalists to get their news. Social media is a dynamic medium. This is the most exciting time to be politically aware and participate in nation building.
And try not to lose one’s mind like Aakar Patel, who spends his free time these days collecting Modi dolls and occasionally screaming at them and reprimanding them in what appears like desperate cries for help.