Exactly one day before the Gujarat election date is due to be announced, one of the first pre-poll surveys emerging from the election-bound state is here.
The India Today Axis-My India opinion poll has found that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on a secure footing, even as the main Opposition Congress is set to put up a tough fight in the upcoming Assembly elections.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its chief mascot, and under the main campaign strategist Amit Shah, who’s also the BJP national president, it seems that the ruling party government led by chief minister Vijay Rupani is set to stage a comeback, although it might see some dent in the seat and vote share this time around.
According to the opinion poll conducted by Axis between September 15 and October 15 in all the 182 constituencies of Gujarat, the BJP is projected to bag between 115-125 seats. This is in the same range as the BJP's performance in the 2007 and 2012 assembly elections.
The Congress, which is the principal opposition in the state, is projected to bag between 57-65 seats. In the last assembly elections held in 2012, the Congress party had bagged 60 seats.
The India Today Axis-My India opinion poll survey has predicted 48 per cent vote share for the BJP, while the Congress is lagging behind at 38 per cent. The opinion poll gives 0 to Hardik Patel, and 0-3 seats to others. The total number of seats in the Gujarat Assembly is 182.
Key issues in the Gujarat Assembly elections will be the impact of GST and demonetisation, as well as caste agitations such as those led by Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor.
Traders in the state have already staged massive protests over GST, which led the central government to even reduce GST rates of khakra, namkeen and a few other items symbolic of Gujarat. Only 38 per cent of the traders who participated in the poll survey approved of the GST, while 51 per cent didn't.
In addition, Hardik Patel has been leading agitation demanding reservation in jobs for Patidars, while Jignesh Mevani has been at the forefront of the Dalit identity marches in the wake of atrocities against the lower castes in places like Una.
It's also important to point out that BJP is facing an anti-incumbency of almost 22 years, along with the series of caste agitations along Patidar, Dalit and OBC lines which have rocked Gujarat. The India Today Axis-My India opinion poll shows BJP has a decisive edge among 67 per cent of the electorate - OBC 37 per cent, ST 15 per cent and general 15 per cent. This means Narendra Modi might very well hold on to his original political bastion and home turf.
As per the opinion poll, Congress is expected to gain among Patidar and OBC youth votes, which might influence outcome in 21 seats. The poll also shows that the main opposition party has an edge among 32 per cent of the electorate - Muslims 10 per cent, Dalits 6 per cent and Patidars 16 per cent.
In case Hardik Patel officially declares his support for the Congress, the results may change drastically. According to the pollsters at Axis My India, if Hardik openly supports the Congress, the main opposition in Gujarat might see a significant jump in its vote share - from 38 per cent to 40 per cent. This could result in an additional 5-10 seats for the Congress and a consequent loss in seat share for the BJP.
Possible chief ministers
Incumbent BJP chief minister Vijay Rupani has got 34 per cent of votes to be the next CM, while BJP's Amit Shah is favoured by 10 per cent. Congress' Shaktisinh Gohil is favoured by 19 per cent.
The India Today Axis My India poll survey was conducted in all 182 constituencies of Gujarat, and had 18,243 respondents in total.