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It was ‘KHAMP’ vs. Gujarati in Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017

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Business Consultant with a MNC

Gujarat assembly election 2017 results were decided by around 4 crores and 33 lakhs electors. But these electors were not just voters, they are more than that! They were Patels, Kshatriyas (OBCs), Harijans, Upper castes, Muslims and many more.

Other than caste, electors are also segmented in other metrics like their financial status, geographic location (city, town and village), age, gender and occupation. The simplest way is segmenting them as per their respective caste, because historical voting patterns suggest the same.

Also, it is easier to consolidate electors as per their caste in our country due to the reasons like same caste electors have very similar behavioral and emotional characteristics which play a major role in their consolidation.

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As a result, almost all the political parties give more weightage to caste consolidation during candidate selection. The aspiring party candidate who belongs to an assembly constituency where his caste has majority of electors, will definitely be preferred as a party candidate.

Gujarat assembly election 2017 was also impacted and overwhelmed with this phenomenon. Congress tried very hard to return to power in Gujarat after two decades and they used their tried and tested strategy of ‘KHAM’ with an additional ‘P’, which was ‘KHAMP’.

In ‘KHAMP’ which was a rainbow caste consolidation, K stands for Kshatriyas (OBCs), HA- Harijans (SCs), M- Muslims and P for Patels (Patidars). KHAM with P was by far the best consolidation a political party could have aspired in the state like Gujarat, where KHAMP combined population of around 65 to 70 %.

Had the Congress been successful in pursuing 70% of KHAMP electors to vote for their candidates, Congress could’ve easily got 48-50% of total votes which would have been decisive to form the majority in Gujarat Assembly. KHAM was the election winning caste consolidation and made Congress to form the government during 1980s. But every caste consolidation has its repercussions. KHAM made Patels to completely abandon Congress in 1980s and resulted in Patels inclination towards BJP. This led to the split of KHAM as well due to the influence of Patels, as it is said in Gujarat that each Patel has 3 votes, 1 his own and 2 non Patel votes of his influence. This assembly election KHAM plus P, with Patels (Patidars) comprising around 12% of Gujarat population, could have really be the best bet for the Congress. To pursue this strategy Congress relied heavily upon three community leaders- Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani to construct this rainbow caste consolidation.

But it became evident on the 18th December, the election result day, that Gujarat has always been more than the ‘KHAMP’, and it is the feeling of proud ‘Gujarati’ community who has shown to this country the way of doing business and the path to the development. This feeling of Gujarati has been realized and enhanced mostly during the government of Mr Narendra Modi.

The recent results prove that Mr. Narendra Modi is still by far the tallest leader in our Country and instills the felling of a proud Gujarati among electors of Gujarat. There is no doubt that Gujarat has excelled in comparison to other states in terms of overall social and economic development, but the fear was there that the anti-incumbency of two decades could dilute all the development work.

The fact that more than 50% of Gujarat electors are less than 40 years of age played a major role in the dilution of ‘KHAMP’ caste consolidation, provided this set of young electors cast their vote with substantial voting percentage. The young electors play a crucial role specially in rural constituencies (considering Gujarat has 98 rural assembly constituencies out of total 182) to dilute the ‘KHAMP’ caste consolidation and cast their vote as united ‘Gujarati’ for the development of their state, and BJP formed the majority one more time in Gujarat assembly.

But this seems to have happened only with two pronged strategy from BJP: Firstly to convince the young voters to vote for the development of their state without being influenced by their caste, and secondly to retain their trust in BJP that only this party can bring further economic development in the state.

Only December 18, 2017 has made it clear to the entire nation that Mr Narendra Modi pursued the electors one more time to vote as a proud ‘Gujarati’ instead of getting split into their respective castes and voted as ‘KHAMP’.

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