Gujarat Assembly Polls – The Caste Factor

RSTV Bureau

Opposition Congress in Gujarat is banking on the support of a bunch of caste leaders to bridge the 9 per cent vote share gap that led the BJP to retain power in the 2012 Assembly polls.

BJP, which is in power in Gujarat for over two decades, is claiming that it will not only retain its 2012 base, but also expand the vote share.

The Congress, on the other hand, is hoping that the crowds attending Gandhi’s rallies will translate into votes and it will get an extra push from its new-found local allies — Patidar quota spearhead Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakore and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani.

Surendranagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd during an election campaign rally for the state assembly election in Surendranagar on December 3, 2017. PTI Photo

Surendranagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd during an election campaign rally for the state assembly election in Surendranagar on December 3, 2017. PTI Photo

While Thakore has joined the Congress, Hardik Patel, who heads the Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti, has pledged his support to the main opposition party.

Mevani, who has positioned himself as the face of Dalit agitation in Gujarat, is getting support from the Congress, which is not fielding a candidate of its own against him.

On the other hand, the BJP is focusing on holding together its votes from the trading community and tribals.

According to the Election Commission data on the 2012 Gujarat polls, the BJP had received 47.85 per cent of the valid votes, while the Congress garnered 38.93 per cent votes. There stood a crucial difference of 8.92 per cent between the two parties.

Despite the difference in percentage, the BJP won 115 seats and the Congress 61. The NCP and Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party bagged two seats each.

Vadodara: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting during his road show at Karjan village in Vadodara on Tuesday. PTI Photo

Vadodara: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting during his road show at Karjan village in Vadodara on Tuesday. PTI Photo

The Janata Dal (U) won one seat and an independent, too, emerged victorious.

In 2012, Gujarat had over 3.8 crore voters, spread over 26 districts. The turnout was 72.02 per cent, the highest-ever in Gujarat’s history, according to an EC report released after the 2012 polls.

As per the latest electoral roll, Gujarat has over 4.35 crore voters.

Elections in Gujarat will be held in two phases — on December 9 and 14 — to elect a new 182-member Assembly. The counting of votes will take place on December 18.

The Model Battle Gujarat – Caste Factor