Voter trend in Gujarat

It is common knowledge that the entire edifice of the power structure of the BJP built by the Modi-Shah duo rests on Gujarat where the party has been in power for the last 22 years. Gujarat was the launching pad for Modi for Prime Ministership. So, at the beginning of the assembly poll campaign in Gujarat, when party president Amit Shah claimed his party would win 150+ seats out of the 182 seats, nobody questioned it. The Congress was in doldrums. Senior Congress leader Shankersingh Vaghela, who was the Leader of the Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, had quit the party. The morale of the Congress workers was very low. Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi was being constantly lampooned by the BJP as a pappu or political novice.
An ABP-Lokeniti-CSDS pre-poll survey conducted in August confirmed the supremacy of the BJP, with nearly 60 per cent of the respondents surveyed favouring BJP and only 27 per cent favouring the Congress. Two months later, a survey conducted by the same agency in October found a remarkable change in the voter mood. The BJP’s support percentage had dropped by 13 per cent while the support for the Congress had gone up exactly by 13 per cent and stood at 40 per cent. This change had taken place in two months. There is still one month to go before the polls and it is anybody’s guess what the actual outcome will be.
That the Congress has recovered a lot of lost ground is evident. The crowds at Rahul Gandhi’s meetings are growing. He has shown an unexpected maturity by winning over the support of the Patels and the Thakores, two traditionally mutually hostile communities. The BJP is taking the Congress and its vice-president with dead seriousness as confirmed by the increasing sharpness of its attacks on the party and its leader. A defeat in Gujarat before the general elections slated for 2019 will be disastrous for the BJP. Even a sharp fall in its vote percentage will be highly damaging. The hurried decision announcing an across-the-board reduction in GST rates on various commodities shows the anxiety of the ruling party. Indeed, the cumulative effect of demonetization, GST, loss of jobs and deceleration of economic growth on the electorate will be known only after the poll results are announced. The trading community in Gujarat has been the traditional vote bank of the BJP. Demonetization and GST have greatly alienated this community. How far the latest restructuring of the GST will be able to repair the damage remains to be seen.

Sunday, 12 November, 2017