The result of the 2022 Gujarat Assembly elections has been declared. Under Narendra Modi’s leadership, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) achieved a historic victory with 156 seats, which they won from almost every region of the state. The party won in many constituencies located in the regions dominated by tribals, Dalits, labourers, and various marginal communities and in the cosmopolitan cities which are dominated by the middle class. Most political analysts agree that the BJP got votes from various social communities across all castes. With these results, one can easily see the saffron in tribal zones, religious sites, and the cities of factories and dhandhas (work).
The cause of the BJP’s historic victory in Gujarat is certainly the magical impact of ‘Brand Modi’, the trust capital which lies in it, his lively connect with the public and his emerging iconic symbol which represents Gujarati pride. All these factors create an emotional texturing of multiple connections with the people. In a few decades of being a party of power, the BJP has also created a huge beneficiary group through its developmental projects and initiatives. The BJP has not only formed a huge group of beneficiaries but has transformed it into a community. This beneficiary community is slowly evolving a consciousness within itself that electorally votes for the party beyond caste and class. This community has slowly emerged as a strong electoral base for the BJP and contributes to the continuous victories in various states.
The tribal votes, where Congress had a stronghold, have shifted heavily towards the BJP in this election. A few months before the Gujarat elections, I wrote a piece on the changing political nature of tribal communities in the state and how the BJP has expanded its political base in the tribal belt in recent decades. This trend may be observed in the tribal zones of various states in India. However, in Gujarat, the party worked hard to strengthen itself. It worked at two levels — organisationally and at the level of governance and the politics of development. The BJP slowly evolved a strong party structure among tribals and consistently organised meetings, health camps, awareness rallies, etc. It also tried to evolve its influence among tribals by enhancing a sense of pride as Gujaratis and Indians among them. The Sangh Parivar and various Sangh-inspired organisations worked among tribals to disseminate education and develop health and medical infrastructure. The Sangh Parivar also organised various programmes in the past few decades to develop the skills and capacity of tribals to earn a livelihood. The various social projects, by the organisations inspired by RSS, worked well in making ground for the expansion of the BJP.
The Modi government at the Centre started a powerful campaign to enhance tribal pride in various ways. Electing Droupadi Murmu as the President ofgave a big boost to the tribals all over India. The Modi government also enhanced the tribal welfare budget. All of this impressed tribal communities in Gujarat and other parts of India and the same has been reflected in electoral results.
The shift of tribal votes towards the BJP shows the party, with the iconic image of PM Narendra Modi, has acquired a large trust vote among tribals of the state, which may emerge as a base vote for the BJP and its politics.
The writer is a Professor and Director at GB Pant Social Science Institute, Prayagraj, and author of ‘Republic of Hindutva’. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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