Skip to main content

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat ahead of state assembly polls in 2017
By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.
According to this leader, one only needs to divide the voting pattern in Gujarat into three parts: While the urban areas, forming about one-third of the seats, would almost all go to the BJP, as for the rest of the two-thirds seats (rural and semi-urban), one should divide them equally, 50:50. Half would go to the Congress, while the other hald would to go the BJP.
While I reported this in a Times of India blog without naming this Congress leader, then Sonia Gandhi political adviser Ahmed Patel, I was told later, came to know of this and “castigated” the leader for the observation, which said nothing but the truth. Indeed, the Congress won only nearly one third of the 182 assembly seats in the December 2012 polls, as predicted by this leader.
Be that as it may, seven years later, as the Congress faces another electoral battle as part of the Lok Sabha polls, have things experienced any change for the BJP?
Interestingly, one-and-a-half years ago, ahead of the Gujarat state assembly polls of December 2017, this Congress leader, who was once part of Gujarat’s civil society and worked extensively for tribal rights before joining politics (Shankarsinh Vaghela’s defunct Rashtriya Janata Dal, a splinter group of the BJP) in mid-1990s, repeated the same view he had taken in 2012 while talking to a veteran activist.
As he had predicted, one third of the urban area seats indeed went to the BJP, though as for the rest of the seats, things appeared to slightly tilt towards the Congress. The result was, of the 182 assembly, the BJP was forced to remain satisfied with 100 seats, its worst performance since 1995, while the rest, 82, went to the Congress+ (80), and independents. So, had this Congress leader’s analysis gone awry? 
To answer this question, one has to see, how real was this tilt, if at all? If translated into the Lok Sabha’s 26 seats in Gujarat, how many seats would the Congress be able to win in the polls to be held in April-May this year? An Assembly segment-wise analysis of all the Lok Sabha seats suggests, significantly, that that the Congress leader’s theory of the Congress winning around one third of the seats remains intact.
Assembly segment-wise analysis of Lok Sabha seats:
Votes polled by BJP and Congress in 2017
Indeed, the voting pattern in the assembly elections for the 26 Lok Sabha seats suggests that the Congress would win just nine seats in Gujarat, while the rest of the 17 would go to the BJP. No doubt, nine is better than zero, which was the Congress tally in the last Lok Sabha polls from Gujarat in 2014. Yet, it is possible to argue: 2014 was an exception, when the Modi wave swept the country.
Indeed, Assembly segment-wise analysis of the 26 Lok Sabha seats suggests (click HERE for table) that the BJP would be a winner in all major “urban” seats of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot and Bhavnagar; as for the rest, things would be 50:50.
The victory margin in the urban areas would be huge – in the two Ahmedabad Lok Sabha seats it is around 2 lakh, in Gandhinagar, around 2.7 lakh, in Surat and Vadodara it is 3 lakh plus, in Rajkot it is 85,000.
Indeed, what clearly comes out is, the Congress failed to make any inroads in the urban areas, where, to quote a keen Congress sympathizer, “even today party doesn’t exist despite wide-scale desperation due to unemployment among the able-bodied youth, on one hand, and the continued impact adverse impact of demonetization and goods and services tax (GST) among the small business.” According to this person, “The Congress lacks the killer instinct to cash in on this discontentment.”
Notably, it is suggested, in the 2017 assembly elections, even in the rural areas, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s coalition politics worked. It helped attract three major non-Congress leaders representing Patel, Thakore and Dalit communities towards Congress – despite resistance from the local Gujarat Congress leaders.
While one of them, Alpesh Thakore, joined the Congress, Hardik Patel’s influence got rich dividends to the Congress in Saurashtra, and Jignesh Mevani’s influence on Dalit-Muslim votebank helped the party considerably. The coalition politics, however, worked in the tribal areas, too, where Chhutobhai Vasava’s Bharatiya Tribal Party, aligned with the Congress.
Whether this type of “coalition” would work for the Lok Sabha, especially when Alpesh Thakore, representing an important OBC community, is dally-dallying, going so far as meet Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, is still not clear.
Meanwhile, if the assembly polls are any indication, the BJP has made significant inroads in South Gujarat, which was long considered a Congress bastion. The assembly segment-wise analysis also suggests that the Congress doesn’t win the two Scheduled Caste and four Scheduled Tribe reserved seats also.
A recent interaction with around two dozen grassroots social workers from across the state confirmed that, while there is considerable dissatisfaction, for instance, in coastal and tribal areas, and the anti-incumbency factor is pretty strong almost everywhere, much of the support the Congress would get would depend on the type of candidates the party puts up. Lacking funds, the party focuses more on those who can fund their own polls than on socially-committed candidates!
The view is pretty strong among Muslim social workers that the Congress “doesn’t care” for the community and “doesn’t give space” to Muslims. The “explanation” that the Congress is seeking to woo the majority community (Rahul Gandhi’s temple visits) only to placate the perception that it is seen as a Muslim party, isn’t either going down well among a large section of Muslims. Many wonder, given this situation, why not press the NOTA button?
The assembly segment-wise analysis suggests that the Congress would win nine out of 26 seats, but, clearly, as keen observers note, one has to take into account Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong ability to cash in on the “nationalistic wave” following the terrorist attack on CPRF convoy, killing more than 40 jawans off Srinagar, and the followed by the Air Force surgical strike across the Line of Control. 
The impact of such incidents is said to be particularly huge in Gujarat. How would the Congress leadership take on this new wave, especially when its young state leaders aren't equipped with even the basics of secular and democratic Gandhi-Nehru ideology, bewilders its sympathizers.   

Comments

Uma said…
Congress does not expect to do very well in Gujarat but hopes to improve its tally

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w

Muslims, Dalits off Bangladesh border 'don't have acess to' water, power, farmland

Counterview Desk  Kirity Roy, secretary, civil rights group Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), in a letter to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, has revealed how, even after 75 years of Independence, Muslims and Dalits living next to the India-Bangladesh border do not have access to electricity, drinking water, even to their own land. Stating that the “horrible situation” has due to “illegal restriction on the agricultural activities” imposed by the Border Security Force (BSF), plunging “farmers and their families into deeper poverty”, the letter, referring to the plight of 1,200 people reside in the Changmari village, states, There are about 200 acres of cultivable lands out of 3,500 acres is situated beyond the border fence. “The ingress and egress of the farmers to their own agricultural land through the fencing gates are regulated by the BSF. The soil and climate of this region is very suitable for jute and maize cultivation”, it adds. Text: This letter is