The Gujarat Assembly Elections will be held in two phases, on 9 and 14 December. Now surveys will be held, and an army of journalists will travel to the state, all in a bid to gauge the mood of the aam aadmi.
Here are five key voter trends from the previous assembly elections that may hold the clue to how the contest for the 182 seats in Gujarat will play out.
1. BJP Has a Solid Voter Base in Cities
In the 2012 Gujarat polls, the BJP won 115 out of the 182 seats in the 2012 Gujarat polls, while the Congress bagged 61 seats. The BJP registered urban vote share of 59.5 percent, while the Congress had 32.8 percent urban population voting for them. Cities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodra contributed to BJP’s victory.
Interestingly, of the 47.9 percent overall vote share that the BJP won, urban voters alone constituted 60 percent.
Of course, surveys have indicated that demonetisation and GST have affected businesses gravely, which could change the mood of the voters. But if the voters are angry, does this mean good news for the Opposition?
2. BJP Does Not Have a Strong Hold in Villages
It is important to note that despite years of being in power in Gujarat, the BJP does not have a very strong hold among the rural voters. The BJP registered 42.1 percent rural vote share, but trailed behind the Congress by a narrow margin.
Congress remained ahead of the BJP in areas like Gandhinagar, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha.
3. Congress’ Adivasi Votebank
The Congress appears to have the lead over BJP in both seats and vote share in Gujarat’s tribal regions. In the 2012 elections, Congress’ vote share from the regions of the Reserved category (Scheduled Tribes) was 45.3 percent. The BJP, however, garnered 40.2 percent vote share from these areas. Tribals constitute 15 percent of the total population of Gujarat.
4. Margin of Victory
In 2012, the vote margin in 26 seats was less than 5,000. Seats like these can prove to be unpredictable.
Even the slightest change in the mood of the voters in such areas can drastically affect the political matrix of the elections.
5. Will Smaller Parties Stir it Up?
The previous elections have shown that a number of smaller parties have been registering voter shares of 10-15 percent in Gujarat. How these parties fare in the December 2017 elections could hold the key to the fate of the larger parties involved.