The Angry Young Men Of Gujrat

Since the French revolution, the model of politics is usually defined by frustrated young men, from terrorism to nationalism. They did it in 2013 when AAP made a debut in Delhi, and they were the main reason BJP was able to form a government on its own in 2014 general elections. What makes assembly elections in Gujrat so interesting is that BJP is being challenged by the same constituency which brought it to power in the state. The trio of Alpesh Thakor, Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani represent the anger that has slowly built up against the BJP government in the state. They are young, have strong influence in their communities, and have shown the will to engage with active politics. On one level, this shows the kind of decimation the opposition is facing in terms of their support and credibility that young faces like these have been able to garner so much support around them, so much so, that a party like Congress has to listen to their demands and accommodate them in order to fight elections. On another level, it creates a path for a new way of engagement in Indian politics, strong independent political leaders coming from civil society movements forming a kind of loose alliance with major political parties. This creates space for fresh voices in the political system. It also brings the question of identity politics to centrestage and how it together with aspirations and frustrations of youth will shape our society. The issues of unemployment and inequality are pervasive but they take a new form when engaged with caste and communities. How much effect these young men will have on the elections in Gujrat remains to be seen, but their support for Congress have created ripples in BJP in Gujrat. While the BJP might be sure that it will be able to counter this discontent with polarization and PM Modi’s personal charisma, it has to remember that it does not takes much time to lose an elections when you have lost the narrative.

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