Demonetisation, GST unlikely to be future election issues

The debate around demonetisation and GST may continue in the public domain in the coming months, but poll outcome in UP and Gujarat has proved that though the voter may have issues with the two major economic decisions, it does not influence the voting preference.

GST was one of the major issues that Congress had flagged during the Gujarat campaign. Former PM Manmohan Singh slammed the NDA government on the manner in which it was implemented. He also reiterated his views on demonetisation and said it was “organised loot and legalised plunder”. Former commerce minister Anand Sharma also campaigned on the issue in Gujarat. Singh and Sharma met groups of business persons in Surat where they emphasised their views on currency recall and GST.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi also included the issues in his speeches when he attacked PM Modi. He also questioned the four tax slabs and demanded that there should be one GST rate. Though Gandhi was successful in reaching out to the masses in Gujarat and his party increased its vote share and political footprint in the state, the teething problems due to GST do not appear to have given significant electoral dividends to Congress.
BJP was able to scrape through in Gujarat mainly due to its performance in urban areas, especially Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. It has won 46 out of 55 seats in the cities which form the hub of economic activity. BJP lost only one seat each in Surat and Vadodara, the diamond and textile centre. Its tally has come down due to its dismal performance in rural and ‘rurban’ seats. While Congress won 71 of these 127 seats, BJP secured only 53 and three were bagged by ‘others’.
BJP was able to scrape through in Gujarat mainly due to its performance in urban areas, especially Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. It has won 46 out of 55 seats in the cities which form the hub of economic activity. BJP lost only one seat each in Surat and Vadodara, the diamond and textile centre. Its tally has come down due to its dismal performance in rural and ‘rurban’ seats. While Congress won 71 of these 127 seats, BJP secured only 53 and three were bagged by ‘others’.

It is not that there was no anger over GST. Many traders and business people complained that their profits had taken a dip for three months post-demonetisation and another three since GST came into force. The textile business took a hit and many small businesses complained of too much paperwork and slump in sales since GST came into force. The watch making industry and diesel auto parts manufacturing business in Rajkot were affected.

However, voters in urban areas supported BJP yet again for a variety of reasons. The fall in market when news spread on Monday that Congress could win Gujarat showed ‘brand Modi’ is still trusted over Congress. The latter also failed to capitalise on anti-incumbency and did not come across as an alternative for majority voters.

Similarly, in case of demonetisation while UP voters said they faced hardships and the only justification was that it would yield positive results in the long run, their votes were not influenced by it. Polarisation of votes and lack of a formidable challenge from opponents helped BJP sweep the polls.

Amid signs that problems related to GST are waning and the economy is on the upswing, the two economic reforms are not likely to sway voters’ decision in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, MP and Rajasthan or in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

source:https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/demonetisation-gst-unlikely-to-be-future-election-issues/articleshow/62141666.cms

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