Narendra Modi, then in his early twenties, is said to have played a significant role in the movement. Congress Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel had to resign in February 1974. Morarji Desai went on a fast unto death to bring down the government.
In March, the state assembly was dissolved and President’s rule was imposed. The Navnirman Andolan was the first successful anti-corruption movement and it inspired many anti-Congress movements throughout the nation.
All this prepared the ground for the imposition of 1975 Emergency put by the Indira Gandhi government.
Following the dissolved assembly, fresh elections were held in June 1975. Congress fared badly and formed a coalition government with Bharatiya Jan Sangh, Bharatiya Lok Dal and Samta Party. Already weakened, the coalition government lasted a mere nine months and again the President’s rule was imposed in Gujarat.
In the 1976 elections, Congress won. But the party was showing signs of weakness as the Navnirman Andolan had caused considerable damage to the party. Congress devised the KHAM strategy to return to power in 1980.
Erosion of Congress from Gujarat
The KHAM strategy worked initially but it gradually led to alienation of upper castes from Congress. Congress’s loss turned out to be BJP’s biggest gain. The higher castes became more assertive and alert towards their political standing especially after the anti-reservation riots as they faced the possibility of losing educational facilities and government jobs. The upper castes migrated towards BJP which opposed Congress’s KHAM politics and lead the anti –quota agitation.
Congress favoured Kshatriyas over Patels, the most powerful caste in Gujarat. Though Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was a Congressman, the Patel community started drifting from Congress in the early 1980s. When Congress CM Madhavsinh Solanki extended reservation to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in 1981, anti-reservation wave started gripping the state.
This provoked anti-quota riots in 1985, which turned communal. When the then PM VP Singh announced the implementation of the Mandal Commission, entire northern India was engulfed in protests by the upper-castes. The anti-reservation sentiments lifted BJP and gave a boost to RSS and ABVP.
Saffronisaton of Guajrat had begun.
Why Gujarat favours BJP
Since 1995, Gujarat and BJP have become synonyms. In the years following the Babri Masjid demolition, Congress has not been able to come back in the state. The Ram Janam Bhoomi movement has transformed the politics in the state.
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