Ever since the maverick trio of Patidar leader Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani began taking on the ruling in Gujarat, Assembly polls have become exciting for national audience.
While it remains to be seen if the dramatic campaign will swing votes, the past trends show that BJP has little reasons to worry.
Theand the might be talking about jobs and economy but caste might decide the fate of the election in December. Both parties have been locked in a long fight to attract influential castes, many of whom have been staunch supporters of the BJP.
At the core of the renewed dynamics are the Patidars, a traditionally BJP-supporting community that comprisesof the state’s 60 million population and holds influence in at least of the 182 seats.
The Patidars are believed to be in large numbers inAssembly constituencies, while the Thakores and Kolis are said to be decisive voters in constituencies.
Clearly, no political party can afford to ignore either of them.
In 1980, the Congress stitched together a rainbow coalition– called KHAM for Kshatriya, Harijan (Dalits), Adivasi (Tribals) and Muslims – that brought together aboutof the state’s population and brought Madhavsinh Solanki to power with a record seats in a 182-member assembly.
Solanki mobilised KHAM communities to challenge Patel dominance in state politics till 1984.
Today, Congress leaders describe the new caste engineering as KHAP, a spinoff from former CM Madhavsinh Solanki’s KHAM formula.
During the last five state elections, the BJP’s vote share didn’t increase drastically.
Fromof the vote share in 1995, BJP only managed to lift its vote share to in 2012 elections. However, that hasn’t dented its winning streak in last 20 years. This was evident in the 2012 polls where the victory margin for BJP MLAs was less than five thousand votes.
Congress is also confident that Muslims in Gujarat would continue to vote for it.
(Average vote share of Muslims from different regions of Gujarat in last five elections.)