As campaigning for the second phase of Gujarat Assembly elections ended on Tuesday, newly elected Congress President Rahul Gandhi claimed his party shall return to power as there is “Jabardast (massive) undercurrent” against BJP in the state.
BJP, on the other hand, looked a little insecure in its bastion for the first time in last 22 years. However, the party said it will win over 150 seats.
But, the narrative emerged in Gujarat is that there was a discontent among BJP’s otherwise traditionally strong trading community over GST and demonetisation.
And this was the reason PM Modi could not seek votes in the name of GST and demonetisation, what he claims his biggest reforms.
However, the same trading community, especially in urban Gujarat, would be the biggest obstacle for Congress to remove as they are the loyalists of BJP and "Narendra Bhai".
The Congress President-elect, while talking about the “undercurrent” against BJP, was hoping to ride on the discontent among the farmers over mutted cotton and groundnut prices and among traders facing slowdown in their business activities due to GST and demonetisation.
Farmers can change the equation in Congress's way as the party was not too far behind BJP in Rural Gujarat in 2012 elections.
What 2012 Assembly Election Data Shows
Despite the favourable-looking political conditions in the state, the road to dislodge BJP in its stronghold Gujarat would be a herculean task for Rahul Gandhi to travel.
In 2012 Assembly elections, BJP won 52 seats in Urban Gujarat while Congress could only manage to win 6 constituencies.
When it comes to Rural Gujarat, the grand-old party winning 55 seats as compared to BJP’s 63 produced a neck-to neck fight.
So, as per this analysis, if the Congress wants to gain substantial ground in Gujarat, it has to make inroads into the BJP’s loyal urban vote base.
The Rural and Urban Voter Mindset
According to a pre-poll survey conducted by Lokniti-CSDS-ABP News, BJP is way ahead of Congress in Urban Central Gujarat and Urban Saurashtra regions.
In Urban Central Gujarat, 35 per cent people intended to vote for the saffron party while only 20 per cent said they will vote for the Congress.
The Modi factor was quite visible in Urban Saurashtra as well where 46 per cent people said they will vote for BJP while only 30 per cent extended their support to Congress.
However, the Congress seems to be giving a tough fight to BJP in Urban North Gujarat where 41 per cent people were in favour of voting for Congress as opposed to BJP’s 51 per cent.
But in the Patidar dominated Urban South Gujarat region, Congress may be able to severely dent BJP’s vote share. 43 per cent people in this region said they will vote for the Congress while only 36 per cent favoured the ruling party.
According to the poll, Congress seems to have gone past the BJP when it comes to the rural areas. In Rural Central Gujarat, 47 per cent people said they will vote for the grand-old party while 56 per cent in Rural North Gujarat and 49 per cent in Rural Saurashtra gave preference to Congress over BJP.
In Rural South Guajarat, BJP, with 44 per cent votes was slightly ahead of Congress’s 42 per cent.
Though, the Congress stands in a much more comfortable position in Rural Gujarat, it will have to improve its average victory margin (votes per seat) which stood at 14,456 votes in the 2012 Gujarat Assembly elections.
With Congress enjoying the bigger cushion in rural areas, the upheaval task ahead would be denting through BJP’s loyal urban vote bank and increase the victory margin to win the high-stake Gujarat elections.