The resentment over GST provisions had provided an opportunity to the opposition to mobilise opinion against the BJP, along with seeking to tap discontent amongst caste groups such as Patels and Dalits. The widespread involvement of various communities, including Patels, in trade and business meant that GST was affecting a fairly substantial section of the population.
The new and more positive GDP figures will not directly relate to GST provisions that have upset sections of business in Gujarat, but allow BJP to claim that the business climate is improving and it will not be wise for Gujarat voters to junk the party at this time. Besides, irrespective of the shade of the government, GST was not going to be rolled back.
BJP leaders have argued that demonetisation and GST are passing shocks while the economic slowdown precedes these major initiatives. The opposition has argued that destruction of informal employment and a flawed GST had dealt body blows to the GDP and pushed India into a decline. The latest GDP data helps BJP to counter the opposition narrative and claim that measures to clean up the economy and make it more transparent are paying off.
The Gujarat election is particularly crucial as it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state and any loss of face will be read as a weakening of his and BJP's appeal in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. While reaching out to sections unhappy with GST, BJP chief Amit Shah has made the point that the overall business environment was as important as the precise details of the new tax which he said would be clarified in the months ahead.
The upturn in GDP was quickly hailed by finance minister Arun Jaitley as evidence that the turbulence caused by the rollout of GST and notebandi was behind and the economy had turned the corner. Congress has challenged the Gujarat model of development, riding on the "vikas gone mad" theme that began as a protest against slippages in the functioning of some municipalities. BJP has hit back with its "hu chu vikas, hu chu Gujarat (I am development, I am Gujarat)" campaign.