The BJP is set to repeat its 2014 feat as it’s on its way to score a perfect 26 in the Lok Sabha elections 2019 in Gujarat, with party candidates leading with vote margins in the range of 6,600 to 1.5 lakh.
Despite Congress putting up its best performance of the last three decades in the 2017 Assembly elections, the election turned out to be a cakewalk for the BJP in the state, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who made his Lok Sabha election debut from Gandhinagar constituency, is leading by a huge margin of over 3.5 lakh votes. This constituency was always considered a safe seat, since it was previously held by BJP stalwart Lal Krishna Advani.
Top Congress leaders, including former Union Minister Bharatsinh Solanki and Paresh Dhanani, leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly, are trailing by 50,000 and 7,500 votes respectively. After three hours of counting, BJP secured 62 per cent vote share, while the Congress managed to get 32 per cent vote share.
By highlighting issues like farm distress, water scarcity and Patidar discontent in its campaign, the Congress was expected to affect the BJP vote-share this election, but evidently, the opposition couldn’t capitalise on these issues.
The Congress was also hoping to emerge strong in Saurashtra and tribal belt of Gujarat, given its impressive performance in the regions during the state polls, but the voters’ desire to elect a strong and stable government at the Centre and the Modi factor trumped any local factors.
The BJP, on the other hand, had a strong voter base in urban Gujarat, especially in Ahmedabad (both east and west), Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat. Voters in these 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 was expected to play a key role in determining voter sentiment. But even the Hardik Patel factor, which played an instrumental role in weakening the BJP foothold in the state, couldn’t save the Congress from a complete wipe-out.
In the 2014 elections, which propelled Narendra Modi to power at the Centre, the BJP had won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats. In 2009, BJP had won 15 seats, while Congress had bagged 11. Later, during by-elections BJP took up the tally to 17 and Congress was left with only nine seats.