No one doubted victory of the BJP and Narendra Modi in Gujarat. But this time it is no cakewalk !
When the first phase of elections ended in the western state on December 9, predicting the final outcome became fraught. A second stage in the election is set for December 14, with the victors and the vanquished to be announced four days later. Lalit Thummar, president of the Amreli Diamond Merchants' Association, said this time it is no cakewalk for the BJP.”
His association represents enterprises that process and export most of India’s diamonds, which constitute a significant part of all international trade in the precious stones. Thummar believes that two key decisions of the government led by Modi undermined prosperity in the state. The first was a decision to withdraw high-value banknotes from circulation in November 2016, purportedly to fight black market operations. And he cited as second major factor the goods and services Tax (GST) introduced in July this year. The middle class, mid-level entrepreneurs, traders and small business people who were Modi supporters had been most adversely affected, Thummar explained. Observers say the result of the Gujarat election could affect the stability of the national Modi government, not least through exacerbating ongoing leadership struggles within the BJP.
This, in turn, threatened to impact on general elections scheduled for 2019.Social analyst Parthbhai Bhatt noted that the BJP, sensing trouble, had announced a relaxation of the tax regime. But it remained unclear as to how far that would mitigate against self-inflicted political damage already done.