Skip to main content

Congress' Patidar "support" went up by 15% during Gujarat polls, thanks to Hardik, yet BJP got 60% of community vote

By Rajiv Shah
Veteran social scientist Prof Ghanshyam Shah, quoting data from the post-poll survey carried out by the top Delhi-based institute, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), has said that, despite what seemed to be a huge Patidar upsurge ahead of the Gujarat state assembly elections under the leadership of young Hardik Patel, majority of the community voted for the BJP, though the party's voting share in the community did come down.
Talking with Counterview on Gujarat polls, which saw BJP's assembly strength come down from 115 in the 2012 state assembly elections to 99 this time, Shah said, "In 2017, the Congress got 36% of the upper caste votes, which is the highest ever since the BJP came to power in Gujarat in 1996", adding, "This time around 35% of the Patidars voted for the Congress, around 15% more than 2012 elections."
Pointing towards the reasons for the Congress "improvement", Shah said, this could be because, "one, in rural areas like other peasant communities, Patidars – particularly middle and small cultivators -- were very unhappy with the government procurement policy; two, younger Patidars supported Hardik's demand for reservation in jobs; and three, their feeling of being Patidar was hurt by the way the government treated Hardik and other Patidar youths."
Yet, the fact remains that the BJP continued to enjoy the support of majority of Patidars, the senior professor, who was director, Institute of Social Studies, Surat, and and was later at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said. "BJP still enjoys the support of a large section (60%) of Patidars because of their economic interests, Hindutva ideology and Gujarat pride centred around Sardar Patel."
Shah continued, "Upper and middle-income strata have preferred BJP over Congress in all the last four elections. They overwhelmingly voted for Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But over the last three years the proportion of BJP voters among them significantly reduced from 28 and 24 percentile points of the rich and middle class respectively. The Congress gained 44% of the rich and 41% of the middle-income group, the highest in the last four elections."
Yet, he added, the trend of their majority support to the BJP continued. "Though the traders and small industry entrepreneurs agitated against GST, many of them voted for BJP this time. Some had a hope that their issues would be sorted out soon by the government. Some others feared that they would be harassed in their business if they do vote for BJP."
Pointing out that the urban and semi-urban trend of support to the BJP this time did not percolate to the rural areas, Shah said, even bare economic realities suggest that Gujarat was in the grip of farm distress. "Between 2001 and 2011, the number of cultivators in Gujarat reduced to 3.55 lakhs (5%), and the number of agriculture labourers increased to 16.78 lakh."
"These figures speak about agrarian distress despite high agriculture growth (estimated 9.6%). Like elsewhere in the country, growth benefitted largely a tiny segment (less than 5%) owning two hectare or more irrigated land", he said, adding, "43% of Gujarat farmers are indebted with on an average Rs 1,26,109 debt per household. A majority of them pay 25% or more interest on their loan. 1,483 farmers committed suicide between 2013 and 2015."
"Things particularly became worse for Saurashtra", Shah said, adding, "Over the last two decades, a number of industrial units with an investment of Rs 10 crore and more were set up in Saurashtra by acquiring land from farmers with a promise to provide employment. Expectations for a better life were raised. But only a few of the land losers have gained employment, and many feel being cheated."
The result was, said Shah, citing CSDS data, "This time BJP captured 50% of OBC votes, declined significantly by 18 and 7 percentile from 2014 and 2012 elections respectively", even though it "maintained its hold over Kolis of the coastal area of Saurashtra and South Gujarat, and artisan communities."
"While the Congress could not got a majority of OBC votes, mainly because of Kolis", Shah said, it surely "improved its tally from the earlier polls. The party has maintained its hold over the Kshatriya-Thakors in the central and north Gujarat. Young OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who joined the Congress after mobilizing the community, might have helped the Congress in consolidating its position among them."
"In the predominantly OBC constituencies at several places, Modi twisted Mani Shankar Aiyar’s reference to him that the Congress leader called him ‘of neech (low) caste person’, asking OBCs to give a fitting reply through the ballot box, such emotional speeches failed, and OBC candidates of the Congress in these constituencies won."
Suggesting that the numerically strong Kolis remain the weakest spot of the Congress, Shah said, this was reflected even in the selection of candidates. Thus, while the "Congress had more candidates from various OBCs than BJP, 65 and 57 respectively", among the OBCs, BJP had more Kolis than Thakors, 17 and 9 respectively. In the case of the Congress, the position was reversed, 16 Thakors and 4 Kolis."
Coming to Dalits, who form 7% of Gujarat's population, Shah said, the two parties got "almost equal proportion of votes", despite the Una Dalit agitation and Jignesh Mevani's leadership." In fact, "one-fifth of Dalit votes went to Mayawati's BSP, NOTA and independent candidates. Similarly, Congress could not improve its vote share among tribals than earlier elections. It retained 17 out of 27 reserved tribal seats."

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.