Political History of Gujrat
The Bombay state was divided into two separate States- Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960.The partition was done on the linguistic lines. The first Congress govt. of Gujarat was headed by Jivraj Mehta. The State of Gujarat is situated along the western part of India and has a coastline of about 1600 km, the longest in the country, along the Arabian sea. Most of the coastline lies in the Kathiawar peninsula. The population of Gujarat is about seven crores. The capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad in the beginning and was shifted to Gandhinagar, the greenest city of India, in 1971. The State shares boundaries with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Diu.
The state is famous for its beaches, temples (Dwarkadhish, Somnath, Nageswara, Ambaji, Dakor etc.), Gir National Park and wildlife sanctuary known for Asiatic lions, Amul (the largest dairy producing brand based at Anand), automobiles (Maruti, Ford, Tata, Honda etc. ), Pharmaceuticals (Alembic, Cadila,Torrent etc. ), Refineries(Reliance, Essar) Ports(Kandla, Mundra) etc. Surat in Gujarat, known for diamonds and textiles, is the richest city of the country. Porbandar in Gujarat is almost like a place of pilgrimage, being the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. KirtiMandir in Porbabadar is a small museum depicting his early life. Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad is the first Ashram of Gandhij. Tobacco, groundnuts and cotton are the main crops of that State. Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Morarji Desai, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are the eminent politicians produced by this State.
Congress ruled over Gujarat up to 1995, except for a short duration. Madhav Singh Solanki, four-time Chief Minister, was the most popular Congress leader of Gujarat. He is credited with the initial development of the state. He is known for his social engineering initiative of uniting Kshatriya, Harijans, Adivasis and Muslims, popularly known as KHAM. This proved to be a successful formula. In 1995 assembly elections, the BJP formed the govt. headed by Keshubhai Patel. His govt. lasted only two years following a split in the BJP, led by Shankar Singh Vaghela. The BJP again won the elections in 1998 with a clear majority. In 2001, following the loss of two assembly seats in byelections, Keshubhai Patel resigned and yielded power to Narendra Modi.
The burning of the train in Godhra on February 27, 2002 by Islamists caused the deaths of 58 Hindu pilgrims and karsevaks returning from Ayodhya. This infamous incident resulted in Hindu Muslim riots killing over 1000 people. This was one of the most unfortunate events in the history of Gujarat. Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, was accused by the opposition parties of condoning the violence. In 2012, he was cleared of his complicity in the violence by the SIT constituted by the Supreme Court.
Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister for about thirteen years before becoming the Prime Minister of India. During his tenure as the CM, the State has seen significant improvement in almost all the areas. The Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest statue with a height of 182m and located on Narmada River in Kevadia near Vadodara. This statue is of SardarVallabhbhai Patel, the first DyPrimeMinister and the first Home Minister of India. This was Narendra Modi’s dream project and its construction began during his tenure. This has now become a popular tourist destination.
Sabarmati riverfront, the waterfront along the bank of Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad, has also become a tourist place. The electric supply in the state is 24×7., The water from the Narmada River is now available up to Kutch region of the State. He initiated the Vibrant Gujarat Summit attracting billions of dollars as FDI. The roads network improved and increased tremendously. The State has become riots free and agriculture production gone up substantially. He became undisputed grassroot leader and the fact of the matter is that Narendra Modi is more popular than the BJP. Gujarat continues to be on the path of development. Recently Modhera village in Mehsana district has become the first solar powered village in India. This achievement has been appreciated by the UN Secretary General.
Gujarat legislative assembly is a unicameral legislature having 182 seats. Out of these, 13 seats are reserved for schedule caste and 27 for schedule tribes. The present 14th assembly has 111 members of the BJP and 62 of the INC. Over 15 of the Congress MLAs have switched over to the BJP.
Elections to the 15th assembly are due to be held next month. Gujarat has four regions namely North, Central, South and Saurashtra & Kutch and the BJP is strong in all these The Congress has not been able to gain ground in the state. Hardik Patel, the young Patidar leader, the working President of the State Congress joined the BJP and is contesting the election. There is no strong Congress leader in the state and no strategy to counter the BJP. Rahul Gandhi is busy in Bharat Jodo Yatra which is not passing through Gujarat. It seems he does not want to be blamed for the defeat this time like in other states in the past. MallikarjunKhadge the present Congress President is not a popular leader in Gujarat. The weakness of Congress will benefit the BJP. The AamAdmi Party (AAP) facing corruption charges in Delhi does not have a base in the state. In the absence of a strong leader, the Congress voters may choose AAP. There may be little anti-incumbency but these votes will be divided among Owaisi’s AIMIM, AAP and Congress.
I have stayed in Gujarat for a long time and during the previous election asked a few people, “Who will you vote for?”. The unanimous answer used to be, “Modi”. His popularity is beyond doubt in all the sections of the society. The developmental work and the welfare schemes like Clean India, toilets for all, Ayushman Bharat etc have gone well with the people. His regular visit to the State gives confidence to the people. The Congress is in total disarray and AAP is insignificant in the state. The BJP seems to be comfortably winning.
By Manoj Dubey
Principal (Retd.) Delhi Public Schools