Monday, 23 April, 2018

Caste politics rule the roost in upcoming Gujarat Assembly Elections

Caste politics rule the roost in upcoming Gujarat Assembly Elections Caste politics rule the roost in upcoming Gujarat Assembly Elections
Melinda Barton | 06 December, 2017, 18:02

While Patel has extended his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti's support to the Congress, Thakor has already joined the party, and Mewani, who is contesting the Vadgam seat, is being backed by the Congress.

Almost all aspects of the poll show that the BJP has every cause to be anxious in Gujarat - something that seems closer to reality considering that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah's campaign rallies in their home state have now been marked not by massive crowds but by a huge number of empty chairs.

Th opinion poll suggested that in North Gujarat, which consists of seven districts and 53 seats, the Narendra Modi-led BJP will win 30-34 seats (45% vote share) whereas, the Congress will bag 18-22 seats (42% vote share).

While this discontent may lead to a stiffer challenge for the BJP, it may not be enough to bring an end to BJP's long rule in Gujarat, an analysis of the past election trends and the pre-poll survey findings suggest. The ruling party has fielded 58 OBCs while the Congress has 62 such nominees.

The BJP has nominated 50 Patidars this time, while the Congress has fielded 41 candidates from the community.

In the 2012 Gujarat polls, the BJP received 47.85 % of the valid votes, while the Congress garnered 38.93%.

According to political analyst Achyut Yagnik, a mere swing of about four to five per cent would prove to be game changer for Congress.

"The Gujarat voters have already made a decision to vote BJP government out, largely because the so-called "Gujarat Model" was a fictitious and fraudulent spin which today stands totally exposed". The Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute has come back into public focus yet again after senior Congress leaderKapil Sibal - while appearing for Sunni Waqf Board - told the Supreme Court to defer the hearing of the appeals filed in the title dispute case up to July 2019, after the Lok Sabha elections.The BJP did not waste time over the issue and immediately BJP chief Amit Shah told reporters in Ahmedabadthat the Congress party should clarify its stand on the "double standard" it is adopting on the issue."Rahulji is visiting temples in Gujarat but on the other hand, Mr Sibal is being used to delay Ram Janmbhoomi case".

There is also clear divide between rural and urban Gujarat.

However, the BJP dismissed the poll findings as "off the mark" and said the Congress was nowhere in the race, much like the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

Which is the ruling and opposition party in Gujarat? The experts have said that "After a few hours of polling, they leave the booths and go home. 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.

This time, the Congress has fielded six Muslims while the BJP has not nominated anyone from the community. While the Congress is elated to see the new caste dynamics coming to its rescue, the BJP still believes that no one is leaving its ship.

The two-phase Gujarat polling would take place on December 9 and 14 for the 182 member state assembly. Results will be declared on December 18.