In a TV interview to Times Now yesterday, Narendra Modi made yet another pompous statement. A lie actually. That Gujarat had gotten rid of the Congress and he would ensure that India also would get rid of Congress in 2014. Data analysis of course shows that this is yet another statement full of gas. The truth is that the Congress remains a very strong #2 party in the state. The truth also is that during Modi’s rule, the Congress has only inched closer and closer to the BJP. If anything, Modi’s rule has been beneficial to the Congress. Here’s the data:
In the recently concluded 2012 state elections, when the “chhote sardar” of India as Modi likes to refer to himself, or the “King of Kings” as the Ambanis called him won the state elections for the 3rd successive time, the Congress still managed to get a full 39% of the vote share. The BJP of course won more – a full 9% more in fact – at 48% and romped home with 115 seats out of 182. A decisive win no doubt, and something that Modi can rightfully be proud of. However, by no yardstick does it allow a statement of the type Modi made (Gujarat has got rid of Congress) to be made.
If anything, the Congress has only been gaining during Modi’s tenure. In the 2007 state elections, the gap between the BJP and Congress was in fact higher at 11%. And even in this year, the Congress managed to get the support of 38% voters. This means that one out of every 2.5th voter was actually a Congress supporter. Don’t forget we are talking of a state where Modi has his strongest appeal. Even in such a state, the Congress gets a 38-39% vote share.
Even when Modi was supposedly at his highest popularity, in the aftermath of the post-Godhra riots, during the 2002 state elections, he couldn’t manage much better. The BJP did get 50% of the votes, but the lead over the Congress was still just 11%. So even when the state was swinging to wild communal beats drummed up by Modi, only 11% more voters voted for the BJP than for the Congress.
Now lets look at whether Gujarat has started voting for the BJP because of Modi, for it surely looks that way if one were to hear Modi’s rhetoric. Well, in 1997 (much before Modi arrived on the scene), the gap between the two parties was still 10%, and even in 1992, the gap between the two parties was 10%. This proves that the BJP’s popularity in Gujarat predates Modi. But then what’s surprising about that. So much of Gujarat predates Modi! Its economic progress, its industrial stature, its pro-BJP bias…..all predate Modi. This is the fact that most media outlets don’t bring out – proving just how short they are on research.
Now lets look at how the Congress has fared in the General elections, for that is the context in which Modi made his pompous statement.
Well….well….well! Either Modi’s maths is really poor, or his wont for distorting facts is so strong that he cannot stop himself even when he sees the truth!
In the 2009 elections, the Congress got 43% of the votes compared to the BJP’s 46%. That’s it….a gap of 3%. Does it look like the state has got rid of the Congress? The BJP managed just 15 of the 26 seats with the Congress getting 11. Strange right? You would imagine that in the state where after Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the only leader ever born was Narendra Modi, the state would have voted for him en-masse??? You would think that except for the 9% Muslims in the state, all the others should be voting for the BJP right? After all, much of Modi’s popularity is attributed to his supervision of the post-Godhra riots right? So what’s going on here? Are we to conclude that Modi doesn’t even get the votes from his own Hindu brethren….those who have supposedly anointed him “Hindu Hriday Samrat”????
What about the 2004 elections? Well, the picture is hardly any different. The BJP got 14 seats to Congress’s 12. The gap between vote shares was a similar 3.5% or so.
Let’s see if Modi has helped the BJP’s cause through his rule or not. Well, again the data is startling! In 1999, the BJP actually managed 52.5% votes, its highest ever in the last 20 years and more! It got 20 seats then compared to the Congress’s 6. Without doubt, this year saw the impact of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s popularity all over India. So Gujarat resonated far stronger to Vajpayee than it has ever done so to Modi! But its not as if 1999 was an exception. In previous general elections as well, the BJP fared much better than it does now under Modi: 1998 – 12% gap, 1996: 10% gap….and 1991 21% gap! Clearly, the Congress has only gained in the last 20 years…..and Modi has been beneficial to the Congress!
The real truth is that Gujarat has not got rid of Congress. Not by a mile. In fact, the support for the party has been quite steadfast. It hasn’t wavered one bit in the last 20 years. Of course, that’s still not great news for the Congress since its in the #2 position. Equally, it’s a commendable achievement of Modi that he has managed to keep his lead intact even after so many years. My only complaint is with the kind of hyperbole Modi resorts to. Gujarat has got rid of Congress….my foot!