BJP Set to Storm Modi-Shah's Home State as Exit Polls Predict Win on All 26 Seats
In the 2014 elections, which propelled Narendra Modi to power at the Centre, the BJP won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP national president Amit Shah.
New Delhi: Predicting a clean sweep for the BJP in Gujarat, the News18-IPSOS Exit Poll handed 25 to 26 seats to the saffron party in the state.
The exit poll gave the Congress zero to one seat in Gujarat, suggesting a repeat of the 2014 Lok Sabha election results which saw the BJP win all the 26 seats in Narendra Modi’s home state.
Other exit polls also suggested a similar result in the state.
Today’s Chanakya predicted a whitewash, handing BJP all the 26 seats. The India Today-Axis exit poll also echoed a strong performance by the BJP, handing the party 25 to 26 seats and a single possible seat for the Congress.
The Republic C-Voter exit poll, however, gave the Congress four seats in Gujarat, while predicting a strong showing of 22 seats for the BJP in its stronghold.
The ABP-Nielsen exit poll predicted a loss of two seats for the BJP from its 2014 performance, handing the saffron party 24 seats and the Congress two.
In the 2014 elections, which propelled Narendra Modi to power at the Centre, the BJP had won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Of late, however, anti-incumbency in Gujarat has been raising its ugly head in the form of the Patidar reservation issue, demonetisation, hasty implementation of GST, land acquisition woes and sliding industrial productivity, all of which was feared to affect the BJP vote-share this election.
The BJP has a strong voter base in urban Gujarat, especially in Ahmedabad (both east and west), Gandhinagar, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat.
Voters in these six seats have historically appreciated the developmental work that their cities have seen over the past three decades under saffron rule.
In fact, local civic bodies and city municipalities are also run by the BJP. However, outside the urban sphere, caste politics plays a key role in determining voter sentiment.
Then comes the Patidar vote bank and the Hardik Patel factor which had played an instrumental role in weakening the BJP’s foothold in the state.
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and Hardik Patel had wreaked havoc on the BJP in 2015 and in the run-up to the 2017 Assembly elections.
However, Hardik has since joined the Congress and declared that the Patidar reservation movement has ceased.
Although he was barred from contesting the Lok Sabha elections, he had whipped up crowds across Gujarat against the BJP.
Over 40% of the state’s population belongs to the OBC community which is spread across north Gujarat and Saurashtra.
Up in north Gujarat, the Thakor vote is split, thanks to Alpesh Thakor’s political antics. However, the Congress still has an upper hand in north Gujarat.
The community united after the rape of a minor girl in Sabarkantha by a north Indian migrant labourer in the last week of September 2018.
The BJP pointed fingers at Alpesh Thakor and his Thakor sena for the violence against migrant workers which angered the community.
Apart from that, voters in north Gujarat are unlikely to forget the delayed government response to the 2017 floods in Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts, which saw over 224 deaths.
In Saurashtra, cotton and ground nut farmers are in dire straits and the Congress was expected to capitalise on their woes, especially in Amreli and Surendranagar districts.
The BJP and Congress are contesting these elections on completely different political agendas.
For the saffron party, nationalism rides higher than economic development which did not impress the rural voter in the state.
The Congress saw revival during the 2017 assembly election campaign, which also witnessed Rahul Gandhi’s hands-on campaigning in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.
Across south Gujarat, the land acquisition issue for various infrastructure projects of national significance, including the bullet train project, is also a major bone of contention, especially in terms of remuneration. Barring Surat, the BJP was expecting a close fight in Valsad and Bardoli.
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