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Why India Today-Axis My India exit polls is predicting a BJP victory in Gujarat

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DailyBiteDec 14, 2017 | 21:27

Why India Today-Axis My India exit polls is predicting a BJP victory in Gujarat

The wind is still blowing in the BJP’s favour in both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

Now that the exit polls of the last two Assembly elections of 2017 are out, the season of predictions and estimations is here. And the wind is still blowing in the BJP's favour in both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, according to India Today-Axis My India exit polls.

The exit polls have predicted a 99 to 113-seat victory for the ruling BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf Gujarat, which has 182 assembly seats in all. The Congress, led by its poll mascot Rahul Gandhi and joined by youth leaders Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani, has put up a solid challenge, but it will nevertheless fail to unseat the BJP from its throne and the incumbency of 22 consecutive years.

That the BJP is possibly retaining its bastion in Gujarat in the face of tremendous campaigning speaks of the formidable, if questionable, electoral charm of PM Modi and his chief strategist, BJP national president Amit Shah. However, beyond the big points, what are the key takeaways from the exit poll predictions in Gujarat?

We give you five quick takeaways, based on our first readings of the India Today-Axis My India exit polls.

1) Slight loss of vote share for BJP

With the BJP predicted to bag 99-113 seats, the vote share has slipped from 48 per cent in 2012 to 47 per cent in 2017. On the other hand, for the Congress, vote share has gone up by three percentage points, from 39 per cent in 2012 to 42 per cent in 2017.

The gains made by Congress have been chiefly in Saurashtra, North and rural Gujarat, as well as in the vote banks of the youth leaders it pressed into action.

 

2) South, Central Gujarat still loyal to BJP

Though the Congress has managed to make huge inroads into North Gujarat with 32 seats, as well as in Saurashtra and Kachch, where it made major gains in 54 seats, South and Central Gujarat remain the BJP strongholds that they have been for long.

That the BJP is possibly retaining its bastion in Gujarat speaks of the formidable, if questionable, electoral charm of PM Modi. Photo: PTIThat the BJP is possibly retaining its bastion in Gujarat speaks of the formidable, if questionable, electoral charm of PM Modi. Photo: PTI

In fact, in the 21 seats of the Ahmedabad district, BJP has scored big, showing a thumbs-up for Modi's now much-criticised "Gujarat model".

Congress made significant gains among Leuva and Kadva Patels, Thakores, Kolis and Dalits in North Gujarat and Saurashtra, but South and Central Gujarat didn't warm up to Rahul Gandhi's bonhomie with Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh.

In the 35 seats of South Gujarat, the BJP leads on 25 seats while the Congress leads on only 10.

3) Urban-rural, rich-poor divide

Demonetisation and GST have been major issues in the Gujarat assembly elections this year, but there seems to be a strong urban-rural, rich-poor divide that has worked once again to prop up the BJP.

Poor and uneducated voters have shown a preference for the Congress, with 47 per cent voting for change. However, wealthy and highly educated voters have stuck with the BJP.

Though Congress is likely to get 62 of the 127 rural seats in Gujarat, where the fight is over issues such as economy, healthcare, education and farm loan waivers, 64 of the seats belonging to the relatively better-off sections would still be going to the BJP.

In terms of vote share, the parties are tied in rural Gujarat, with both bagging 45 per cent of the electorate.

Congress is likely to get only 13 urban seats against the BJP's 42 out of the total 55. This, despite enormous protest rallies in cities such as Surat and Ahmedabad led by Hardik Patel, Gandhi, Mevani and Thakore, gives the verdict that the urban Gujaratis have stuck with the BJP even this time.

4) Caste consolidations

Congress has made gains among the Leva and Kadva Patels, of course because of Hardik Patel, leading in eight of the 12 Leva-dominated seats and three of the four Kadva-dominated seats.

Similarly, the tie-up with Alpesh Thakore has helped the Congress in making gains in Thakore-dominated seats, leading in 13 of the 25 constituencies.

However, reverse polarisation has also occurred against Patidars and Thakores, which has helped the BJP, gaining in 35 out of the 52 OBC seats (anti-Thakore consolidation).

Moreover, the impact of Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakore has been limited to North Gujarat, as Patels and OBCs of South and Central Gujarat have picked the BJP once again.

5) Youth gearing towards Congress

Energised by Hardik-Alpesh-Jignesh troika and ignited by Rahul Gandhi, the youth of Gujarat in the age bracket of 18-25 years have shown a preference for the Congress over the BJP, at 45 per cent versus 44 per cent respectively.

The BJP is firmly placed among the older population, particularly in the sixty-plus category, where they command over 51 per cent of the vote share, and the Congress is way behind at 37 per cent.

In all, the anti-incumbency has been offset by regional loyalty for the famous son of Gujarat's soil. If the exit polls prove accurate, the mandate would be firmly a vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rahul Gandhi and the other challengers would be playing catch-up for sometime now, because it seems that Gujarat is not voting for change. It wants more of the same.

Last updated: December 14, 2017 | 21:40
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