In May 2014, as prime minister-elect, an emotional Narendra Modi bid farewell to the Gujarat assembly in Gandhinagar with words of reflection and hope. To the MLAs of his state, Modi had said back then: “My success lies in how you take forward this journey of development. And I am confident that Gujarat will surge ahead after me.” Unfortunately for the BJP, Modi’s Gujarat model, crafted over a long time and sold with gusto to the world, now lies in tatters. To be precise, it took just two years and three months after his elevation as prime minister for things to reach this pass in his home state. Anandiben Patel, his successor who recently quit following widespread Dalit protests against atrocities by gau rakshaks (cow protectors), leaves behind not just a sluggish bureaucracy—despite Modi’s talk of “minimum government, maximum governance”—but also a bitterly divided party whose popularity is finally taking a beating in the state where it has been enjoying an uninterrupted spell in power since 2001. In fact, a city newspaper reported an internal survey carried out by the RSS where it was speculated that if Gujarat goes to polls today, the BJP would bag no more than 65 seats in a House of 182.
Gujarat convenor of AAP and former BJP legislator Kanu Kalsaria attributes this speculation as much to unemployment and the escalating cost and falling quality of education as to misgovernance. According to Gujarat Congress chief Bharat Solanki, what really hastened Anandiben’s departure was the sure prospect of defeat in the assembly election due next year.