New Delhi: After a long time the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been ruling Gujarat for almost two straight decades, has a real fight in its hands. Its popularity has declined drastically in the State in a short span of just two and a half months.
According to the second round of the Tracker Poll conducted last week of October, BJP’s seat share is expected to decline sharply from the prediction of survey conducted in August first half.
Seat forecast - Despite losing ground, BJP emerges clear winner
BJP is projected to win between 113-121 seats while the Congress is likely to get mere 58-64 seats giving clear indications that Gujarat will continue to remain with the saffron party for the next 5 years.
The second round of the Tracker Poll conducted by ABP News- Lokniti-CSDS in the State found the BJP to be securing 47 percent of the votes overall, down from 59 percent in August, and the Congress to be getting about 41 percent votes, a gain of 12 percentage points.
In the first half of August when ABP News- Lokniti-CSDS had conducted the first round of its pre-election Tracker in Gujarat, the ruling party was ahead of its main opponent, the Congress, by a whopping margin of 30 percentage points in terms of people’s voting preference. This enormous advantage has now shrunk, to merely 6 points.
While there’s no doubt that the BJP still enjoys a fairly comfortable lead and continues to be the dominant party in the State, the momentum however very clearly seems to have shifted towards the Congress.
Congress gains tremendously in Saurashtra & North Gujarat, BJP maintains big lead in Central & South
The survey found much of the Congress recovery (and BJP decline) to be taking place in two regions - Saurashtra-Kutchh and North Gujarat.
In Saurashtra, the Congress and the BJP were found to be neck and neck at 42 percent votes each and in North Gujarat, the Congress was ahead of the BJP by seven points. Both these regions together account for 107 seats, which is well over half the seats in the 182-member Gujarat assembly.
Congress seems to be in deep trouble in its own traditional stronghold of Central Gujarat. The Tracker found the party to be trailing the BJP in this region by a wide margin of 16 percentage points. South Gujarat too seems to be swinging the BJP way for now. The survey found the BJP to be securing 51 percent of the votes here compared to the Congress’s 33 percent.
Congress now leads the BJP among farmers
Farmers, or kheduts as they are known in Gujarati, seem to have very strongly swung in favour of the Congress with 50 percent of them indicating their support for the opposition party. This is an improvement of 19 points since the previous Tracker round.
BJP’s lead over Congress among traders narrows to just four points
Support for the Congress among traders and businessmen too has risen by 13 points in the last two and a half months, so much so that the BJP leads the Congress among this once loyal voter segment by just 4 points now. Much of this trading community shift towards the Congress could be attributed to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Congress unable to get high support of women
The survey also reveals a significant gender divide. While men were almost as likely to vote for the Congress as the BJP, women seem to prefer the BJP far more. However, this sharp gender divide is more an urban phenomenon than a rural one since women in villages were found to be slightly more supportive of the Congress than the BJP.
BJP’s losses greatest among youngest voters
There is an age divide too. Young voters seem to be more in support of the Congress than middle aged and elderly voters. In fact the BJP’s decline among youngest voters (18-29-year-olds) is the steepest. The party had received 63 percent backing among them in August. It is now down to 44 percent, signalling a rising discontent with the BJP.
Rupani continues to be top choice for CM but Solanki & other Cong leaders are the big gainers
Vijay Rupani was the spontaneous choice of 24 percent of the respondents for the post of Chief Minister when the first tracker was conducted in early August, and now the same figure has come down to 18 percent, whereas the percentage of people naming Congress’s Bharatsinh Solanki has gone up by 5 points.
Hardik, Alpesh, and Jignesh are far more popular within their communities but many also dislike them; Alpesh’s popularity among his community has reduced quite a bit since August
The new leaders on the block – Alpesh Thakor, Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani – continue to be highly polarising figures, which is evident from the fact that not only has there been a slight rise in their likeability but a significant percentage point rise can also be seen within the category of people who do not like them. This is true not just among all voters taken together but among voters of their respective communities as well.
The second round of a Pre-Election Tracker in Gujarat was conducted by Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, for ABP News. The survey was conducted from October 26 through November 1, 2017 among 3,757 voters in 200 locations (polling stations) spread across 50 assembly constituencies (the State has a total of 182 assembly constituencies).