In last article we observed that the voters of Gujarat change the government they elected in the last election only when the government commits big blunders. The people in such cases don’t wait for even the election, but come out in the streets to remove the government. They otherwise are inclined towards political stability.
While the last article narrated the example of Anamat blunder of Congress government in 1980s, this article is about Navnirman during Chimanbhai Patel government in 1970s.
104 persons were dead, 310 injured, 1450 firings were registered during the 73-day-long Nav Nirman andolan in early 1970s. The andolan had single agenda of removal of then Congress government led by Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel.
After Chimabhai came to power, the state witnessed three years of drought (1972-74). Navnirman agitation started against hike in food bill in Morbi engineering college in December 1973, but later enlarged to state level with issues like price rise, shortage of grains, naked corruption, politics of manipulation in hand.
Navnirman turmoil went worst in January 2014 when incidences of firing, curfew, arson, loot were witnessed in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Modasa, Visnagar, Surat, Saurashtra and other parts. By the end of the month 43 cities were under curfew. Army was called to control the situation.
As many as 405 Navnirman samitis were formed across the state. By the end of January 1974, 44 were killed in firing. Gujarat bandh call was given on 25 January, and it was successful in all 16 districts.
The agitation initially started by students was later joined by doctors, lawyers, intellectual class, teachers and almost all middle class people.
It is open secret that a section of Congress party was sympathetic to Navnirman Andolan.
On 13 January, 23 Congress MLAs sought exit of Chimanbhai Patel. Ratubhai Adani went to Delhi with signatures of 38 MLAs.Four ministers of Chimanbhai – Amul Desai, Divyakant Nanavati, Amarsinh Chaudhary and Navinchandra Ravani presented 15-point charge-sheet and asked Chimanbhai to step down within 48 hours on 7 February. Chimanbhai expelled them from ministry. On 8 February, government employees announced a strike call from 11th.
On 9 February Chimanbhai held a press conference and resigned.
Though Chimanbhai resigned, the assembly was declared just suspended and not dissolved, and therefore people continued the agitation demanding total dissolution of the existing assembly. Large groups of agitators started visiting every Congress MLA’s house to demand resignations. This phase of agitation started from 9 February and resulted into resignations of 95 MLAs before the end of February. But centre was still adamant to accept the demand of dissolution of Gujarat assembly.
Army was called to control the situation on 26 February. Morarjibhai Desai sat on indefinite fast on 12 March in Amdavad’s Gujarat Vidyapith demanding end of violence in Gujarat and dissolution of assembly.
The centre declared dissolution of assembly on 15 March. Morarjibhai concluded his fast.
The there was a President’s rule which was again unpopular.
On 6 March 1975 Morarji Desai walked to Rajbhavan in Amdavad to submitted a memorandum with 5.5 lakh signatures to Governor demanding immediate announcement of elections. On 3 April, Sauarashtra-Kutch Sanstha Congress rally also marched to Governor with samd demand.
On 7 April Morarjibhai sat on fast at his Delhi resident demanding end of President’s rule. This attracted countrywide attention, and finally on 13 April Indira announced Gujarat assembly elections in June.
In the elections, Janata Morcho(a front against Congress) won 86 seats, while Congress won 75 seats, Chimanbhai Patel’s Kisan Majdoor Lok Paksh(Kimlop) won 12 seats while independents won 8 seats in 181-member assembly house. Congress could win 75 seats because as we said in this article above, one faction of Congress party was sympathetic to Navnirman. Then it was very well known to public that Indira Gandhi was not pro-Chimanbhai Patel. The Navnirman andolan was largely against Chimanbhai Patel, and as Chimanbhai was no more with Congress, the party could save itself from larger loss. But then losing the government in election was not a small loss.
The point I wanted to make in these couple of articles was that, until and unless a Chief Minister commits too big blunder, messes up with people in worst way, governs very very poorly, people of Gujarat may not shift political loyalty.
I wrote an article earlier observing that there’s no alternate leader matching to the stature of Modi in Gujarat in this elections. But this is not the only point going in his favor. The other major factor is that Modi has not messed up with the people, he may have committed mistakes, but not intentionally, and he has certainly not committed big blunders. If Congress has no one matching to the stature of Modi, Congress can wait for Modi to commit a big blunder – Big B we can say. This will be a situation where Modi himself will put his stature down. Yes, Congress will have to wait for Big B of Modi. For last one-year Congress is building perception against Modi, but even while doing so Congress has not been successful in pointing out any big blunder of Modi govt.