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Breaking down the Gujarat verdict: How regional pride, nationalism made Modi-Shah even stronger on home turf
Breaking down the Gujarat verdict: How regional pride, nationalism made Modi-Shah even stronger on home turf

New Delhi, May 29 (TIWN): The home state of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, Gujarat, has not disappointed them: like the 2014 Lok Sabha election, this time too, the BJP has won all 26 seats in Gujarat. In fact, the party has increased its vote share in 2019 to 62.2% vis- -vis 59.1% in 2014.

The BJP s victory margins, too, have improved in all but two seats. Party president Shah, who contested from the VIP seat of Gandhinagar earlier represented by L K Advani, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Shankarsinh Vaghela and Purushottam Mavalankar has secured one of the highest victory margins of over 5.5 lakh votes.
The water crisis, coupled with the low prices of the rabi crop, was expected to weigh heavily on the Saurashtra-Kutch region where the Congress swept the rural constituencies in the 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections and in parts of North Gujarat such as the Patan, Banaskantha, and Sabarkantha districts. In early 2018, the Gujarat government had advised farmers to not sow summer crops, as the state could not provide water for irrigation.
This predicament only worsened as 2018 came to an end by December, over 50 talukas had been declared drought-affected. Just before the voting for the Lok Sabha election in late April 2019, Saurashtra s 138 dams had water just over 10% of the reservoir capacity.
But these issues had little effect on the electoral outcome. In fact, the BJP has increased its vote share in the severely drought-affected Saurashtra-Kutch region from 57.79% in 2014 to 59.8% in 2019. In a sense, this reflects a growing awareness among the electorate to treat Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections differently. The post-Pulwama air strikes and the asmita (pride) of having a Gujarati Prime Minister and his trusted aide Shah in Parliament, coupled with nationalistic sentiments (especially in a state bordering Pakistan) mattered more in this election than local concerns over drinking and irrigation water, as well as the crisis of jobs.
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