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Caste politics rule the roost in upcoming Gujarat Assembly Elections

06 December 2017

However, the Congress is still hoping and trying to get its workers together on the D-day along with the effective combination of dedicated supporters of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mewani, ensures that the Congress gets nothing less than victory in the Gujarat assembly polls, scheduled to be held in two phases on 9 Dec and 14 December. In north Gujarat, the Congress has managed to hold on to its "fairly big lead" over the BJP, it said. In 2012, the BJP had won 32 seats (50% vote share) whereas, the Congress had won 21 seats (40% vote share).

However, he believes that though there is some possibility the Congress may win some additional seats this time, it is too early to predict that it would come to power despite the support extended by caste leaders - Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani. BJP and Congress have again started the campaigning process for the elections. In the 2012 Gujarat elections, the median victory margin of the BJP in seats it won was twice that of the Congress in seats the Congress won. Following the elections, Congress suffered successive jolts as its MLAs deserted the party from time to time, leaving its total tally in the current Gujarat Assembly to 43 legislators.

The Lokniti-CSDS poll commissioned by ABP News suggests that there is widespread resentment among the Gujarat electorate against demonetization as well as GST and the BJP's projected vote share declined as the electioneering progressed. The results of two rounds of pre-poll surveys conducted by the Lokniti research programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) as well as ground-reports from Gujarat indicate discontent among a sizeable section of voters. "We also have our own committed Patidar support which will not move away from the BJP".

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Yogi Adityanath had already campaigned in Gujarat in two phases, participating in "Gaurav Yatra" on October 12 and 13 and later for three days last week addressing public meetings in pockets with a sizeable concentration of immigrants - Saurashtra, Surat and coastal Porbandar.

The poll suggests that different age groups would prefer to vote for different parties in the ensuing poll. "Though they have extended their support to the Congress, we should not conclude that all the votes of Patidars and OBCs would go the party", Shah said.

Though the Congress has indirectly supported Mevani by not fielding any candidate against him on Vadgam (SC) seat, Shah claimed that the Dalit vote swing would not leave any impact due to the marginal population.

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"Dalits are scattered. They are only seven per cent of Gujarat's population".

Thus, unless a big shift in votes from BJP to Congress occurs this time, the BJP may still end up winning numerous high-victory-margin seats even though the margins may decline this time.

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Counting of votes in Gujarat will take place on December 18.

Caste politics rule the roost in upcoming Gujarat Assembly Elections