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How will the youth determine the outcome of 2017 Gujarat elections?

By admin

November 29, 2017

Youth & 2017 Gujarat Elections

The youth of Gujarat is going to vote in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, and their role is going to influence the outcome and here’s why.

As per 2011 Census, there was 1.201 crore youth in the 10-14 year category in Gujarat. Around one crore of these will be voting for the first time in the upcoming elections. They are young, aspirational and enthusiastic about their rights, and best of all, most are politically aware and know what future they want for themselves and their state. So the youth of Gujarat could well end up tipping the outcome of these elections one way or another. And political parties are very aware of that.

During the 2014 general elections, Narendra Modi drew maximum votes across India from the youth in his and his party’s favour. The 2017 assembly elections will be no different and will see the youth come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

Jobs is the number one issue for the youth anywhere in the country or for that matter, anywhere in the world, and Gujarat is no different. Narendra Modi promised to create 10 million jobs a year but has clearly failed in this. How does the youth of Gujarat view this?

The BJP has been in power in the state for over two decades, and therefore they will have to stand scrutiny in the eyes of the youth on how they have performed in the last five years and what they can offer in the next five. Rhetoric won’t cut ice with the youth since they are an educated lot and much more aware of their potential, and therefore more demanding.

On this front, the Congress stands relatively safer as they have been in opposition but if they wish to get the youth to vote in their favour, they will have to offer something more concrete than what the BJP has. So does the Congress have a serious plan to offer the youth?

The biggest problem for the Congress is Narendra Modi, who continues to grow in stature in the eyes of the youth, especially in Gujarat. The Congress has not been able to fight the persona that the PM exudes, and therefore, Rahul Gandhi will find it difficult to win over an adulating youth that seems to remain loyal to Narendra Modi.

Why the BJP is on safer ground with the youth in these elections is because major issues that are likely to impact the outcome – GST, demonetisation, Patidar movement, Muslim insecurity and anti-Dalit sentiment, are less likely to concern the youth, except the last two issues.

The percentage of Dalit and Muslim voters, of the total one crore that is likely to vote for the first time, is less, and therefore will not have a major impact on the overall voting pattern among this group.

It is ‘perception’ versus ‘expectation’. Narendra Modi is perceived as a strong leader who is leading the crusade against corruption and is directly contributing to India’s growing stature in the international community. Modi’s call for ‘vikas’ resonates with the youth, and he continues to be perceived as a champion for vikas.

The youth expect the government to provide job opportunities. BJP has fallen short on this front, both in Gujarat and nationally. But since he remains a favourite with the youth, the lack of adequate job opportunities is unlikely to sway the youth. The gainer, of course, will be the BJP.

In the last three months, the Congress has tried to uplift Rahul Gandhi’s appeal as a youth leader across social media platforms, but BJP continues to beat them at a game they mastered way back in 2014. All kinds of satirical videos and jokes are doing the rounds with an eye on the youth and they seem to be loving it, at the expense of politicians and political parties.

Strangely, the prospect of the ‘Bullet Train’ connecting Ahmedabad with Mumbai finds appeal among the youth, who view it as a strong symbol of the new aspirational Gujarat. To what extent they place ‘perception’ over ‘expectation’ shall be known on 18 December.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

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