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Is Narendra Modi apprehensive over upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls?
With the schedule for the Gujarat Assembly elections being announced by the Election Commission of India today, the nation's focus has shifted to Gujarat, as these elections are likely to give a fair idea on who will win the 2019 general elections.

For the last two decades, Gujarat Assembly polls have remained a cake walk for the BJP with the Congress failing bitterly every time it tried to get back its lost glory and dominance over the politics of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gujarat helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi to emerge as an 'unchallenged' leader of the country for the last four years and led the BJP to get a complete majority on its own in the Lok Sabha. It was for the first time that a single political party, other than Congress could get majority on its own, with the sole exception of the Janata Party in 1977, which was combination of multiple political forces.

Modi's stint as the Chief Minister of Gujarat for a continuous 12 years also contributed towards establishing his image as a man of development. Claiming himself to be the messiah of 'vikas', his Gujarat Model of Development became highly popular.

State after state, where Assembly elections were held post 2014, Modi started promising voters of the states the 'Gujarat type model of development'. A major political threat faced by Narendra Modi was in 2002, when the then Prime Minister AB Vajapayee sought his resignation suggesting him to follow 'Raj Dharma'.

However, with the help of LK Advani and the RSS, he succeeded in overcoming that tide and established himself as a most popular leader. Even BJP's disastrous defeats in Bihar and Delhi Assembly polls failed to dent Modi's popularity.

However, for the first time in his political career, probably after 2002, Modi seems to be apprehensive. A day before the announcement of the election schedule for Gujarat, India Today's poll survey predicted BJP's return to power here without any trouble.

In fact, most of the political commentators have also predicted that the BJP would edge past in the state. Although, after ruling the state for 22 years, it is natural for the BJP to face anti-establishment flank. But the opposition Congress seems to be in no position to provide an alternative that can make use of BJP's weaknesses.

However, this time of the polls are causing anxiety for Modi. After hesitating to take up the party leadership, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for the first time is seen full of confidence, announcing that he is ready to take on the party leadership. He also went to the extent of declaring himself as the next Prime Minister, if his party gets majority. This confidence seen in Rahul Gandhi is causing worries to the Prime Minister.

ABVP's defeat in Delhi University Students Union election, which is considered as reflective of the nation's mood and BJP's recent disastrous defeat in Gurdaspur of Punjab also are reasons for BJP to worry over.

For the first time, Narendra Modi is seen on the defensive with his economic management of the country. His prestigious initiatives like demonetisation and GST have proved to be counterproductive to the nation's growth. His own party men are worried on Modi government's performance on the economic front.

The Election Commission's delayed announcement of poll schedule for Gujarat is believed to be a sign that Modi isn't confident enough.

The Gujarati traders agitated more aggressively than any other state's traders protesting against GST. The Patidars on the other hand, who were strong supporters of the BJP are miffed over not being given reservation. Discontentment among the Dalits of the state and allegations of corruption against BJP state government are some of the other problems troubling the BJP.

Apart from all these, Modi seems more worried over the attempt of reviving `Hindutva' by BJP President Amit Shah and the Sangh Parivar by invoking Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Prime Minister seems to be uncomfortable in making Yogi as his 'star campaigner' ignoring his prominence in Assembly polls. According to sources, Modi had expressed his apprehensions that invoking `Hindutva' would dilute `development' plank brought by him, which got votes and seats for the BJP in 2014.

A defeat in Gujarat would provide an opportunity for all anti-Modi leaders in the BJP to revolt openly against him. This makes Gujarat Assembly polls even more crucial for Modi, than previous polls. That's why he is not taking any chances. As Prime Minister, Modi visited Gujarat only three times during his first two years. But this year alone, he has made as many as 15 visits to the state, of which, four were made in October alone. This in itself reveals the anxiousness of Narendra Modi.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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