Unhappy, Many Complaints but BJP it is for Many Voters in Gujarat

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Tulsidas Lakhani from Porbandar has many grievances and a long wishlist of tasks the government must accomplish. Almost 400 km away in Gujarat’s principal town Ahmedabad, Vinod Gopal echoes his frustration.

In a state where the BJP remains the dominant force and enjoys unqualified support from a big chunk of people, Lakhani and Gopal may sound like voters looking for change. But they are not.

“There must be a strong government. Which other party could have revoked Article 370 or built a Ram temple in Ayodhya. We vote for the party and not any candidate. There is no alternative to Modi or the BJP,” Lakhani, who is in his 80s, told PTI.

The lack of economic growth in the coastal town of Porbandar is problematic, he said. The Maharana Mill, which gave employment to many is closed, an old soda ash factory that boosted business in the local marker is no longer generous with bonus, and study and employment opportunities are limited for children.

However, Lakhani lauded the BJP for strong law and order in the town once marked by crimes.

In Ahmedabad, Gopal, an auto parts dealer, said business remains ‘manda’ and price rise pinches.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is synonymous with his party across his home state, is a good “seth” (master), he said.

“Supervisors working under him may or may not be good. But you don’t leave the ‘seth’ because of supervisors,” he stated.

The two voters belong to a segment of the electorate which may be unhappy with the BJP’s government in the state for a variety of issues but will still vote for the party as they believe it remains their best bet.

The opposition appears to be missing in a big swathe of the state’s urban region cutting across cities like Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Surat, Porbandar and Vadodara.

According to poll watchers, the Congress remains a shrinking force in these areas while the Aam Aadmi Party has been able to make an impression, especially in Surat and its neighbourhood, but still has a long way to go.

Issues of price rice, complaints about the rising cost of edible oil and cooking gas cylinders are brought up in virtually every conversation. Unemployment crops up often with many voters of the view that the government is not doing enough in the education and health sectors.

However, many of them, like Gopal and Lakhani, continue to repose faith in the BJP, which has been in power uninterrupted since 1998. The ideological and cultural agenda of the party is a big plus cited by them. With opposition votes looking fragmented, the BJP has gone all out to consolidate its supporters. Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have been holding public meetings across the state. Shah has also been camping in the state to fine-tune the party’s campaign and public outreach.

He has repeatedly expressed confidence that his party will break all records while Modi has exhorted voters to better the best ever best tally of 127 seats it had won under in 2002 when he was chief minister. Both the Congress and the AAP have also claimed they will get a majority in the 182-member assembly.

The state will go the polls in two phases on December 1 and 5. The votes will be counted on December 8.

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